Tragic plight of US pandemic orphans

Is the United States the beacon of human rights? Some US politicians may think so when they point fingers at other countries in the name of human rights. But it is hard for the rest of the world to say yes to this question.

That the US government has shown little concern for the plight of its own pandemic orphans is one aspect of how horrible the human rights situation is in the US.

Because of the pandemic, some 200,000 US children have lost their parents/parent or grandparents/grandparent who are their primary caregivers. Caregiver loss during the pandemic is now responsible for one out of every 12 orphans under the age of 18, and in every public school in the US, on average two children have lost a caregiver to the pandemic.

Orphans are at increased risk of substance abuse, dropping out of school, and poverty. They are almost twice as likely as non-orphans to commit suicide, and they remain more susceptible to almost every major cause of death for the rest of their life, according to US media reports.

They undoubtedly need special help from the government for their healthy growing up.

However, the plight of pandemic orphans has not proved to be much of a pressing issue in the US. No law or executive order has provided any resources specifically for pandemic orphans, even though Congress and the White House have spent trillions of dollars helping Americans tide over the difficulties.

With COVID-19 deaths now hitting 1 million in the US as of Tuesday, the well-documented racial and ethnic disparities in the virus' toll are further compounded in caregiver loss. The COVID death rate for Hispanic Americans is just slightly higher than that for white Americans, but Hispanic caregiver loss is more than double that of white Americans. Similar trends hold for other groups, according to an analysis by Dan Treglia, a social-policy researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert contributor at the COVID Collaborative, a coalition of experts in health, education and economics.

It is obvious that racial discrimination is still a serious problem in the US. The US government's indifference to the fate of the pandemic orphans and different consequences for different ethnic groups facing the pandemic suggests what a mess the US has created when it comes to its own human rights conditions.

The pandemic orphan problem provides just one glimpse of how the US' domestic human rights situation has been worsening, to say nothing of the human rights disasters the US has caused to peoples of other countries with the wars it has launched. It is high time that the US made efforts to put its own house in order before poking its nose into the internal affairs of other countries.