SHAUN KING: Once White Conservatives in Wisconsin Learned That the Coronavirus Was Mainly Impacting Black Communities, They Had No Problem Forcing the Elections There Today

Shaun King
Apr 7, 2020 - 9:36

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We are in the middle of a global pandemic. At least 1.3 million people have contracted the coronavirus. The world economy has come to a standstill. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have lost their jobs and nearly 100,000 people have died. That’s enough to postpone elections and primaries that were set for this month. But now that we are getting the demographic data on who is being impacted the most by the coronavirus in the United States, the insistence from white conservatives in Wisconsin that the elections continue anyway makes perfect sense. 

In America’s largest cities, where racial, economic, and demographic data on who is contracting the coronavirus and dying from it exists, we are learning a lesson that many of us saw coming from a mile away. It’s ravaging Black communities. 

African Americans represent just 32% of the population in Louisiana, but over 70% of the deaths there. Black folk represent just 29% of the population in Chicago but over 70% of the deaths there. In Michigan, African Americans represent just 14% of the population, but 40% of the deaths. The same data is holding true in Philadelphia. 

And I don’t know if the disparity is as bad anywhere as it is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. African Americans represent just 26% of the population, but over 81% of the coronavirus deaths. 

As this data becomes mainstream, what I believe is going to happen is that we are going to see conservative white Americans care less and less about this pandemic. Before this demographic data was out, we saw some states with Republican governors, like Ohio and Georgia, reschedule their primaries. But now that we see precisely who is paying the biggest price, I sincerely think we’re going to see conservative white Americans check out emotionally. 

Virtually every public health official and every mayor in Wisconsin begged the state to postpone their primary elections today. The governor, a Democrat, finally issued a late emergency executive order rescheduling them and making them vote by mail, but the conservative state legislature and the conservative state Supreme Court each voted to overturn those decisions — forcing the elections to happen there today anyway. 

It’s dangerous. It’s not even that elections are going to continue as usual — it’s worse than that. Hundreds of polling locations have been closed all over Wisconsin, and instead of each location having smaller crowds, a tiny percentage of locations will be open, forcing a bottleneck of long lines — particularly in Milwaukee — which normally has 180 voting locations, but will now only have five. 

Here’s what I know — if these numbers were reversed, and white folk in rural and suburban Wisconsin were the main ones dying, the conservative state legislature there would’ve rescheduled the damn elections NO QUESTIONS ASKED. And they would’ve been right to do so. I am deeply, deeply concerned about what comes next across the country now that we learn who this virus is hitting the hardest. 

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At the end of each story we publish about the coronavirus, we are now sharing the following information:

Coronavirus 411

Coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2 but also known as COVID-19, is a novel virus that causes a number of respiratory illnesses, including lung lesions and pneumonia. The virus spreads easily from person to person through the air when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. 

COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 184 countries. More than 1.34 million people around the world have become infected and more than 75,000 people have died. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency on March 13. Less than two weeks later, on March 26, the United States surpassed China in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 can take between two to 14 days to appear. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you also experience persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately. 

In order to keep yourself and others safe, be sure to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid touching your face. The CDC is recommending that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks. Click here for information on how to prepare for a quarantine. 

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