The Coronavirus Meets the Racial Virus


It might be advisable to bring in psychiatrists to keep the peace and not federal troops.


Although recognition was delayed, it soon became apparent that the infection and outcome of COVID-19 was being influenced by the metaphoric racial virus. On top of the harassment of Asian-Americans as we discussed in the first article in this series, much higher death rates are occurring in African Americans and Hispanic Americans than their percentage of the population where they live.

Racial virus has spread to the police department in Minneapolis and beyond after the killing of Mr George Floyd. As protests and riots are met by the police and the National Guard, crowding and lack of wearing masks will make a spike in viral infection inevitable.

While all viral epidemics have dissipated in 2 to 3 years or less, the racial virus has persisted for at least 400 years, with some reduction over time, but in times like now, the problem is exacerbated. No wonder. Racism and scapegoating of others are part of human nature; infectious viruses come and go.

Given those comparisons and connections, it might be advisable not to bring in federal active-duty troops right now, but rather to bring in the psychiatrists. We very well might have a better understanding of how to deal with our inborn tendencies.


Dr Moffic is an editorial board member and regular contributor to Psychiatric Times. He was a tenured Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin until he retired in 2012. Since then he has functioned as a private community psychiatrist providing pro bono services locally, nationally, and internationally. Currently, Dr Moffic is focused on four major advocacy initiatives: physician burnout, climate instability, Islamophobia, and Anti-Semitism. He is co-editor of Combating Physician Burnout: A Guide for Psychiatrists, with Sheila LoboPrabhu and Richard F. Summers.

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