In early March, Madalynn Rucker, then 69, agonized over whether to close her Sacramento consultancy office. On the 16th, she finally succumbed to a barrage of texts and calls from her daughter about the heightened risk of the coronavirus, and told her employees to begin working from home. That was three days before California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order.
Her daughter was right in more ways than one. While Rucker’s age alone raised her potential danger of being hospitalized or dying of COVID-19, she and many of her employees share another risk factor: They are black. Rucker wonders if more public health messages targeting African Americans could have helped millions like her better prepare for the disease’s onslaught.
Officials and commentators said little about race early in the pandemic, recalled Rucker, now 70 and the executive director of OnTrack, a diversity consulting firm. “Could this have made a