News and Articles

What Do We Value: Older People’s Rights Amid COVID-19

Photo Credit: Damon Winter / The New York Times
March 24, 2020

This article is part of a series titled “What Do We Value?” 

Over the coming weeks, we will be highlighting the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized populations. By shedding light on instances of both extreme social isolation and positive efforts of building social connectedness, we ask all of you to consider how we can move forward in this unprecedented time, united in our efforts to uphold the right of every human being to belong.

Although indiscriminate in its geographic sprawl, this new virus has exposed deep fault lines in our society, raising to the foreground questions of whom we value, whom we protect, whom we declare to have the right to belong, and … whom we consider ‘OK to die.’

The first article we would like to share as part of this series is a New York Times opinion piece by Dr. Louise Aronson, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and author of “Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.” This piece highlights the profoundly detrimental impact of COVID-19 on the rights of older people and their physical and mental health.

In “‘Covid-19 Kills Only Old People.’ Only?” Dr. Aronson forces us to pause and consider if the high mortality rates of COVID-19 among older people speak more to our treatment of older people as a society, than to the threat of the virus itself.