The Pandemic Following on the Heels of COVID That Threatens Healthcare Workers and the Black Race: The Karen.
As COVID numbers spike, scientists have identified another potentially fatal risk to America’s healthcare workers and to Black Americans known as the Karen. The Karen belongs to its own unique viral family that surfaced around seventy years ago. Since that time, it has silently multiplied at exponential rates. The Karen is erratic, unpredictable, and favors no particular environment, making it impossible to know where it lies. DNA analysis demonstrates in infected hosts an over-expression of the proteins responsible for hate, ignorance, and moral turpitude. Though scientists are hopeful for the development of a vaccination to eradicate it, they surmise this will not occur any time soon.
The Karen’s preferred host is almost always a white female (though a recent discovery of a mutated strain known as the Kevin is emerging in white males). Scientists conclude that the greatest risk factors for infectivity are being American, White, and privileged. Epidemiology studies conclude that infection transmission is most likely to occur from parent to offspring between birth and adolescence, demonstrating impressionism to be a key factor in contracture. Innocuous activity is likely until the second decade of the host’s life since marriage and parenting seem to cause an acceleration of viral pathogenicity. The host can remain infected for the duration of its life, allowing ample time for community spread. Scientists have found its containment challenging due to the host’s typical economic privilege, providing the sustenance the virus requires to spread stealthily and effectively. While the Karen has been around for decades, it has recently emerged in tandem with COVID, tricking its host into believing that COVID is a hoax, thereby posing a substantial risk to American society and most notably to healthcare workers and people of color.
When COVID first hit America, the greatest threat it posed was its ability to spread quickly, leaving healthcare systems at risk of being overwhelmed. In addition, healthcare workers represent one of the most at-risk groups for both COVID infections and COVID-related deaths given their constant exposure to the virus coupled with working long hours on minimal sleep. Therefore mandated stay-at-home orders became the most effective strategy in our ability to slow the contagion. In states where the orders were put in place, the “curve was flattened”, saving the lives of health care workers and other Americans. But when stay-at-home orders were loosened (or lifted)—there was the Karen, waiting in hiding and now ready to explode back into society. In this manifestation, the Karen-infected-host spouts anti-science rhetoric, disobeys orders of social distancing, and refuses to wear a mask in public. The host disguises its pernicious behaviors through the flouting of such mandates by calling them “a violation of civil liberties”. Thanks to the Karen, COVID numbers are increasing exponentially and healthcare systems will likely (if not already) be overwhelmed, leaving healthcare workers once again vulnerable to COVID infection and death.
Now I, as a physician, along with all the other healthcare workers across the country, stand in preparation for the tsunami of infections heading our way.
When the Karen first evolved, the greatest threat it posed was to the Black race. This is because a notable symptom of infectivity was the encouragement of racial disparities, deeming them to be just. The Karen often infected the young, pampered, Southern woman, playing the role of damsel in distress, fearful of a Black individual even so much as looking in her direction. Despite failing to produce credible evidence any actual risk existed, the infected woman would use charm to fabricate and exaggerate her experience so that viral ignorance could spread. This perpetuated and contributed to racial disparities that are still in existence today, leaving many people of color, especially Black people, vulnerable to false arrest, battering, beratement, and even death. Infected hosts have contributed to injustices such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, Stop and Frisk, and racial disparities in healthcare outcomes. Their privilege allows them to ignore the fact that Black people are infected by COVID at five times the rate of whites and healthcare workers at twelve times the rate of the general population. Ironically, they are unaware that they themselves can also become victims of the disease.
Infected hosts of the Karen can now be found in cities and towns all across America. In fact, hosts can be found doing simple or mundane things like walking a dog in a city park, hiking in the mountains, taking a stroll in a neighborhood, and even wearing a uniform sobbing over a McDonald’s order gone wrong.
The risk this Karen pandemic places on America is grave. We must stand united in opposition to its threat. While scientists have identified an effective treatment consisting of equal parts humility, empathy, education, and self-awareness of embedded ignorance and privilege, complete eradication will be difficult. Mainly because those infected with the Karen tend to lack these qualities, creating a disproportionate outcome of treatment failure to treatment success.
The Karen is dangerous. If you think you see an individual infected with it, film and document their behavior, and contact your local social media affiliates to alert others of its presence. Public awareness and contact tracing may be our only hope.
(For more information on the statistics provided, please visit CDC.gov or MassGeneral.org).
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