LETTER TO EDITOR OR COMMENTARY RE: COVID-19 & AFRICAN AMERICANS THE “SHELTER IN PLACE” ORDERS ARE DEADLY TO MANY – ESPECIALLY AFRICAN AMERICANS
By Woodrow Wilcox
African-Americans are dying of covid-19 at much higher rates than others in our country. Recently, I heard radio reports that 70% of deaths from covid-19 in Chicago are African-Americans despite the fact that African-Americans are only 30% of that city’s population. Why is this happening? I believe I know why. The “Shelter in Place” orders of various governors and mayors are DEADLY to those who live in multi-unit (apartment) buildings. Many people who live in urban areas live in multi-unit buildings. Many African-Americans in urban areas live in multi-unit buildings and often in older apartment buildings that might have less than adequate ventilation systems.
I worked in construction with my grandfather and others. I believe the high death rate is because people who “shelter in place” in a multi-unit building are sharing the air and the germs with others in the building through the ventilation system. Government started ordering “shelter in place” in the winter months. During winter months, people don’t usually open their windows because that would increase the heating bill. Thus, when there are people in the building who are sick, self-quarantined, and exhaling covid-19 germs, there would be a continuing increase in covid-19 germs in the air throughout the entire building if no one introduces fresh air to dilute the concentration of covid-19 germs. Wherever the ventilation system does not provide a constant introduction of new, fresh air and exhaust of old air, it would become a “shared air and shared germs” system. Examples of this could be apartment buildings, hotels, college dormitories, and ships at sea. I believe that is why places with many people living in multi-unit buildings are areas where the covid-19 disease and deaths are the highest.
Government officials who ordered the “shelter in place” policy failed to tell people in multi-unit buildings that they should open the windows regularly to dilute the concentration of covid-19 germs in their apartment and the building. If you are around just a few covid-19 germs, your body’s immune system might be able to fight off the disease. But if you are in a multi-unit building and breathing air with a high concentration of covid-19 germs, it is more likely that your immune system will be overwhelmed and you will get the disease. Suburbs and rural areas seem to get less covid-19 cases. People in a single-family home can easily reduce the concentration of covid-19 germs by opening a window or a door and bringing fresh air into the building. The “shelter in place” policy was tried in China, Italy, and Spain. It did not work to control the spread of covid-19. In fact, that policy lead to many deaths in urban areas in those countries. Why should we believe that the “shelter in place” policy would work in the U.S.? The President’s medical experts tell us that the rate of covid-19 cases is declining because the “shelter in place” policy is working.
I challenge that idea. I believe that cases might be declining because it is spring and with warmer weather people start opening their windows to freshen the air in their apartments. They start opening doors to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather. The opening of the doors and windows alone should reduce the concentration of covid-19 germs in buildings and thus reduce the chances of people in those buildings from getting the covid-19 disease. Instead of protecting people who live in multi-unit buildings, the “shelter in place” policy ordered by so many mayors and governors worked to kill people – especially African-Americans. Government officials should admit their errors and kill the “shelter in place” orders instead of continuing to kill people with that bad government policy.