No Stigma to COVID-19


In journalism, the public is often our best source.  We knew something was different Thursday when, after weeks of quiet about the coronavirus, the Jimp received a slew of inquiries about how to get tested for COVID-19 and how many active cases there were in Marion County.

Becoming sick with COVID-19 is bad enough. You shouldn’t have to feel stigmatized about it.

Some people, however, act like contracting this highly contagious virus is a cause of embarrassment, or they do not believe the person who is sick should be identified by gender, race and age, the demographics the state reports to the public. 

We understand the desire for privacy. But when you are dealing with a pandemic, sometimes you have to sacrifice privacy in order to let the community know they may have been exposed. 

Until scientists can develop a vaccine, contact tracing, testing, quarantine and masks are our four most powerful weapons in the fight against this disease that has claimed the lives of more than 122,000 Americans.

Health agencies and county government are charged with the task of contact tracing, but one suspects that while they do their best with the time and resources available, we may experience less than 100 percent contact notification.

Stories like the one we published last week about a county tax office employee testing positive for the coronavirus help spread the word. The value of this information was brought home to us Friday.

A Titus County woman called the Jimp office saying she had been in Jefferson and was in the annex building with the tax office. When we were able to share with her the victim’s demographics, she was relieved to learn that she had not been directly exposed.

It is simply an anomaly that in the three stories that we have published – the first positive case, the first, and so far only, death and this county employee have all been African American women. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that state-wide 49.3 percent of the cases have been women, 17.9 percent have been between 50-59 years of age, and only 11.9 percent have been African Americans.

It appears COVID-19 will not simply disappear in the summer heat like an ice cube on a brick street. We all need to protect not only ourselves, but others as well.

One way to do that is to stay informed.

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