The sad irony of George Floyd having COVID-19 when he died.


The past month has been one of mass upheaval for large pockets of the world.

A pandemic has leeched its way across continents, infecting more than 6.5 million people, claiming more than 387,000 lives and sucking economies dry.

Then, as one of the worst-affected countries – the United States – begins to flatten its epidemic curve, centuries-worth of anger breaks out in the midwestern city of Minneapolis and spreads across the nation and to others far away.

Each crisis is the result of two very different, yet equally stubborn and lethal diseases: novel coronavirus, and systemic racism.

George Floyd survived only one.

Watch: “Get your knee off our necks”: Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at George Floyd’s memorial.

Video via CBS

The full results of the official autopsy performed on the 46-year-old Minneapolis man were released this week. Floyd died on May 25 after being restrained facedown by a police officer who knelt on his neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

The report concluded Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression”. It also revealed he had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 infections.

The known April 3 diagnosis wasn’t a contributing factor in his death, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded, but simply most likely the result of “asymptomatic but persistent … positivity from previous infection”.


Floyd had lived through a devastating pandemic that disproportionately claims the lives of African Americans, only to become a victim of a criminal justice system that does the same.

(African Americans are dying of COVID-19 at three times the rate of white Americans, according to an independent report. And black American men are killed by police at 2.5 times the rate of their white counterparts.)

Even before that cruel irony about Floyd was known, thousands took to the streets in grief and anger in Minneapolis, Washington D.C., New York and several other cities across the States to remind authorities that Black Lives Matter and to demand an end to deadly systematic racism.

They may have had to shout their message from behind protective face masks, but subsequent BLM protests in London, Berlin, Mexico City, Auckland, Sydney and plenty more show the world still heard.

Imagine a world in which both diseases could be eradicated…

For the first time in a long time, millions of people are daring to do just that.

If you have the means to do so, you can actively help the Black Lives Matter cause in Australia and the United States by donating to organisations working towards racial justice, such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance and the Justice for David Dungay Fund to support the family of David Dungay Junior, an Aboriginal man who died in a Sydney jail. You can also donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network here. If you can, consider regularly donating to Indigenous-run organisations and First Nations causes.

Other active ways to help include signing petitions, attending peaceful protests, listening to BIPOC, raising their voices, educating yourself on racism and privilege and ensuring we are all taking part in the conversation to dismantle systemic racism.