France A. Davis: Coronavirus reminds us that health care must be available to the poor and people of color

The elderly need help scheduling vaccinations and sites must be set up in low-income neighborhoods.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Covid -19 vaccinations at the Mountain America Expo site in Sandy on Monday, March 8, 2021.

It has been more than a year since we got word that the coronavirus was headed this way. It spread all over the world and came to American with a vengeance, killing some 525,000 people, mostly people of color, the poor and those with previous health conditions or disparities.

While there is still no known cure, we have three medically approved vaccines for emergency use and the majority of those in elderly and special care facilities have gotten at least one shot, so the numbers hospitalized and dying are dropping. We appreciate those who developed the vaccines and now the rest of us must get the shots in arms.

Unfortunately, when some businesses shut down completely, churches closed their doors and others limited their services, many who did not trust the medical providers were at risk. All of us were urged to wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water, to stay 6 to 8 feet away from others, to stay home and wear a mask. Those mostly affected still had to continue going out and working, had no place for isolation, and many found themselves hospitalized.

At the same time, many who knew the science was more right than the politics, took unnecessary risks and did not follow the protocols. They continued going in and out, to gather in large groups, and wore no masks. As a result, many jobs are gone, health care was limited and homelessness spreads.

My oldest sister was one of those who died alone. She had checked into the facility for memory care treatment. After about a year and a half, the facility locked the doors and restricted visitation so that my brother and I who visited her daily could only see her by appointment and then through the window and on the telephone. She tested positive for COVID-19 on the third Monday in July. Eight days later, she ate breakfast alone, had lunch alone, and was found dead alone mid-afternoon by the staff. She died alone.

Just when my wife and I thought the COVID-19 was under control, we came down with it. She was hospitalized for treatment and sent home. I was hospitalized for three days and isolated for additional two weeks. As we are elderly, we continue to cough and have breathing issues.

It is time for health care to be available to all, regardless of skin color or economic condition. Long standing disparities have got to cease. The elderly need help locating, scheduling and negotiating the vaccine sites. The poor need locations in their own neighborhoods. Those facing disparities need more attention. That frustrated and afraid need encouragement.

Here is my recommendation as we begin rolling back restrictions: Continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, let family hug, and visit one another, and help the poor as well as the people of color.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rev. France Davis preaches a sermon at Calvary Baptist Church, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.

The Rev. France A. Davis served for 45 years as the pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, retiring at the end of 2019.