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I.C. MURRELL — Coronavirus shows no discrimination

In eight of the 11 coronavirus-related deaths in Mid- and South County (as of July 15), underlying conditions played a factor.

In eight of the 11 deaths, the victim was 65 or older.

In eight of the 11 deaths, the victim was from Port Arthur.

In eight of the 11 deaths, the victim was a woman.

Coronavirus has put our lives behind the 8-ball, so to speak.

Then to find out five of the 11 victims were African American women, Marvin Gaye couldn’t have sung it better: “What’s going on?”

When the pandemic began in March, many of us worried about our older neighbors because that’s who we were told were at high risk. But to see potential danger realized within that age group isn’t just a confirmation of science; it’s an attack on quality of life.

Then, we see a surge of children attracting COVID-19. By children, I mean ages 0-20.

OK, really, what’s going on?

“When we were encouraging people 65 and older to remain at home, I think the younger adults felt that they would be more immune or if they were to get it, it would not affect them dramatically,” Port Arthur Health Department Director Judith Smith said. “When a person has COVID, we don’t know how it’s going to affect that individual. I don’t know that it’s one specific target we can pinpoint.”

Honestly, there are too many targets.

For its part, the Jefferson County Public Health Department called out those infected with COVID-19 who do not heed instructions to quarantine for 14 days, retroactive to the date of the positive test.

The rules never changed. Declarations of disaster on city and county levels were enacted to give health authorities power to sanction those who risk exposure to others.

The rules of prevention never changed, either: Socially distance 6 feet or more apart and wear a mask over your nose and mouth. You’re letting out more than just the sound of your voice when you talk, sing or cough.

That much — in addition to immune-boosting diet and exercise — we all can control.

No one group is more precious or more important than others in an area full of diversity. For 200 or more persons in a single day to attract coronavirus in a county of about 251,000 persons, everyone in the Jefferson County spectrum should be concerned.

Let’s localize that even more:

Two COVID-19 hot spots rest below Texas Highway 73. In fact, they cover areas of 12th Street, one on each side of Woodworth Boulevard.

Hot spots in Mid-County include an area just north of Nederland Avenue, an area just south of Port Neches Avenue and a neighborhood north of 39th Street.

Those numbers are according to data provided by Dr. Praphul Joshi through Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick’s office.

Sunday will mark a year since the facility originally known as St. Mary Hospital in Port Arthur closed after 89 years of service. Some years have passed since Doctors Hospital in Groves shuttered its doors.

We’re down to the Medical Center of Southeast Texas and a few emergency clinics in Port Arthur and Mid-County, none of which are below Texas 73. Add to that the amount of pollution we face in this area and a high percentage of hypertension, diabetes and obesity in communities of color, and the odds of bringing COVID-19 cases down to zero are overwhelming.

What’s going on, we ask? Too many factors, but we don’t have to sing the same old song. We all have to control what we can to bring the number of cases down and live together as one spectrum.

 I.C. Murrell is the editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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