The Wrong People Are Dying

Illustration for article titled The Wrong People Are Dying
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Much of my family will be in New Castle, Pa., this weekend to mourn the losses and celebrate the lives of my Uncle Donnie (who died last month) and my Aunt Doe (who died in April). This is happening this way because COVID-19. COVID-19 is why we had no service for my aunt in the spring. COVID-19 is why my dad and his six remaining siblings are determined to do something now. They are a uniquely close-knit group, willing to risk gathering now because the thought of going much longer without connecting with each other is worse, to them, than the threat of COVID-19.

I will not be there, because, COVID-19. I want to be. I need to be. New Castle is 60 miles from Pittsburgh. I could be there in an hour. But I won’t be. Because, COVID-19. I do not believe that they are making a bad decision. Or that I am making a good one—because “safest” doesn’t always mean “best.” Sometimes it just means “scaredest.” I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Perhaps one day, I will forgive myself for making this choice. Maybe. We’ll see. But I will never forgive the people—the person—who crafted the circumstance that made choices like these necessary.


The news last week made me happy. Giddy. And I allowed my imagination to roam free. I anticipated things happening by now, as a result of that news, that haven’t happened, and this upsets me. This saddens me. This angers me.

Maybe those things will still happen. Those things take time sometimes. But patience now feels like a fallacy. A windmill. A lie as I sit at home, waiting for it to happen, and watching the wrong people die.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Howard Stern said the lesson from all this isn't that the man put his life at risk and might succumb to the disease. He'll be fine, he gets a helicopter, a massive team of medical professionals, and all of the experimental miracle drugs that are proving to work on Covid. The lesson is that when you and I and our loved ones get sick, that level of care will not be available to us, let alone affordable and that is this man's fault on top of letting the virus spread.