Jeffery Yoshikawa was at work in early April when he got the call.
His mother-in-law was running a high fever, and the dialysis clinic at which she was getting treatment suspected she had COVID-19.
He left immediately to take her to the hospital. On the way, her symptoms worsened.
When they arrived, she tested positive for COVID-19. Yoshikawa asked to be tested, too, since he had spent so much time with her.
They both had COVID-19, it turned out, becoming two of the 341 Marshallese people in Spokane to be diagnosed with the disease. With that number of cases, people from the Marshall Islands account for about 30% of the county’s COVID-19 cases – despite making up less than 1% of the county’s population, according to Thursday’s data from the Spokane Regional Health District.
Thankfully Mr. Yoshikawa and his mother-in-law pulled through, but this is so heartbreaking. I remember first hearing that Spokane had a fairly sizable population of Marshallese people a few years ago, but Spokane is big enough and they are a small enough group that I've never really interacted with anyone from their community. Hearing about their plight absolutely confirms on a local level everything I've read about minorities being the most the heavily impacted by Covid-19 in the United States. Our inability to protect low income and vulnerable groups is both shameful and dangerous to the health of our county as a whole.