Philly doctor says ignorance of cultural bias risks making America sicker

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When hundreds of demonstrators — most of them not wearing masks — took to the steps of the state Capitol on Monday, protesting Gov. Tom Wolf’s continuation of stay-at-home orders, Dr. Monique Gary knew the city would feel the impact.

Gary, a Philadelphia breast cancer surgeon and community advocate, says all those protesters, by ignoring social distancing guidelines, and demanding an early re-opening of non-essential businesses in the commonwealth, are putting themselves and others in potential danger. 

She says the protesters in Harrisburg flout precautions against coronavirus transmission, like the social distancing guidelines and Wolf's stay-at-home orders, because they take adequate health care and access to hospitals for granted. 

"There are people particularly in the inner cities that are not having a shared experience," Gary said. 

She says a systemic bias in mainstream health care against marginalized communities prevents them from being recognized when they say they're in pain and need help.

"What this pandemic will ultimately show is that beneath every socio-economic level, there is an invisible bottom that needs to be considered," Gary said.

This is dangerous to cities like Philadelphia that have large Black, Latino and LGBTQ populations. 

The coronavirus doesn’t yet have a vaccine. The danger is clear, she says: Blindness to the city's most vulnerable residents will most certainly compound the effects of the pandemic, making all of America sicker.

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KYW Newsradio's Eric Walter contributed to this report.