While many of the restrictions imposed by governments have ultimately led to decreases in COVID-19 transmission and case numbers, some of the precautions put in place have had a negative effect on minority groups.
HOUSTON, TX, March 09, 2021 /Neptune100/ — With the globe a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials are trying now more than ever to slow the spread of the virus which has taken the lives of at least 2.6 million people since the beginning of 2020.
While many of the measures designed to slow the spread of the virus have helped more than harmed, some policies which have been enforced by federal and state governments around the world have been criticized for harmful residual effects. Some measures taken by officials have shown to not only harm certain groups of people, but have also infringed on Human Rights protected by those same governments.
One example is a notable increase in domestic violence cases as many families have been forced to quarantine together for a full year. In March 2020, the National Domestic Violence Hotline began collecting information on the effect of COVID-19 on victims and survivors of domestic violence and found that there had been a 10% increase in total contacts received. Out of these, in just 6 months, an estimated 6,000 domestic violence cases noted that COVID-19 amplified the problem because they could not safely access resources for domestic violence victims.
A number of countries have also experienced an increase in documented cases involving discrimination against people of Asian descent. In a study done by the Center of the Study of Hate and Extremism in 16 major US cities, an almost 150% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes have occurred since 2019, a year before the pandemic began. Vandalism of Chinese and Korean restaurants, physical assault and attempted murder are some examples of hate crimes against people of Asian descent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some religious and other minority groups have experienced Human Rights violations and disproportionately higher death rates due to COVID-19.
Especially in the beginning months of the pandemic, proper PPE was scarce in US hospitals. This left doctors and nurses caring for COVID-19 patients without the proper level of protection to prevent them from being infected. Many Filipino Americans work in ICUs directly with COVID-19 patients, which has caused a disproportionately high death rate among Filipinos from the virus.
Certain businesses have been deemed essential because of the industries that they serve including manufacturing, medical, and food / agriculture. In one case of these industries in Utah last year, it was found that 73% of workplace COVID-19 outbreaks were experienced by Hispanic and non-white workers. This led to financial impact of those who couldn’t work as well as social stigma because of the outbreaks that affected some ethnic groups more than others.
In early May of 2020, an outbreak occurred in a South Korean LGBTQ community in which about 5,700 people were exposed to the virus. As part of contact tracing efforts, Korean officials disclosed personal information regarding those who tested positive for COVID-19. This caused many Korean citizens to the “outed” to family and friends unexpectedly. Some LGBTQ people experienced threatening, harassment, and physical violence after the contact tracing was exposes public.
Another group of Human Rights violation cases from South Korea involving COVID-19 appeared in a religious group called Shincheonji Church of Jesus. Government officials believe that a localized outbreak in the Daegu church location caused about 63 percent of the country’s positive COVID-19 cases. In a government investigation to evaluate the church’s response to the outbreak, some portions of lists containing Shincheonji members’ personal information were leaked. This lead to the public disclosure of church members’ religious affiliation – of which many were discovered by their families and acquaintances. However, because of Shincheonji’s unpopularity within the country, some members experienced dismissal from their jobs, workplace bullying, domestic violence and slandering against them and the church. Korean officials ultimately found Shincheonji to be innocent of violating government policies during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite this, Shincheonji members came together and donated nearly 4,000 units of convalescent plasma to help in the development of a vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Shincheonji partnered with the Korean Red Cross to set up a plasma donation drive in an Athletic Stadium and garnered support from their members who had already recovered from COVID-19.