Social And Economic Disparities Being Exposed By COVID-19 Crisis
by Ryan C. Jones • 0 Comments
Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to Governor Andrew Cuomo, took to Twitter early this morning to announce that the state’s COVID-19 tracker will now have data that includes the ethnicity of those infected with the virus. As of midnight on April 7th, in New York City, Hispanic New Yorkers accounted for 34% of coronavirus cases and black New Yorkers made up 28%. They account for 29% and 22% of the city’s population respectively.
D. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, explained at yesterday’s press conference that the medical community has long been aware that minority populations in the United States, particularly African Americans, suffer disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Because of these underlying health conditions, Fauci said, “it’s not that they’re getting infected more often. It’s that when they do get infected” these conditions “wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate.”
New York City May Bill de Blasio acknowledged this at an early press conference today, saying “we are going to double down on the strategies that reach people who are the most vulnerable now because we are seeing these very troubling facts.”
The Center for American Progress (CAP) has been tracking these disparities for several weeks, concluding, in addition to underlying health concerns, that economic disparity is a principal factor in susceptibility to COVID-19. As a result, communities of color tend to live in substandard housing in areas of higher population density and are more likely to rely on public transportation, putting them in closer proximity to others who may carry the virus. Access to health care remains one of the biggest hurdles for communities of color to seek medical treatment, regardless of the virus, possibly worsening underlying conditions that could make them more susceptible. CAP also sees the language barrier as an impediment to people of color receiving effective medical treatment. And as current harassment and attacking of Asian Americans shows, racial discrimination is a frequent in people of color being able to receive health care and treatment in the United States.
Governor Andrew Cuomo sounded the alarm at today’s press conference, that this is a bigger problem because of more than the coronavirus. “We’re seeing this around the country,” the Governor observed. He understands that underlying health issues only compound the problem of COVID-19, but he is certain there is more to it than that. “It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price. Why is that?” the Governor asked. “Whatever the situation is.” The Governor has asked the University at Albany president, sociologist Havidan Rodriguez, to lead the effort to collect more data about the spread of coronavirus in minority communities.
READ: Coronavirus Compounds Inequality and Endangers Communities of Color – Center for American Progress