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Covid-19’s Devastating Toll on Black and Latino Americans, in One Chart

By Dylan Scott—April 17, 2020

It has been clear for some time that the coronavirus pandemic is killing black and Latino Americans at disproportionately high rates, but new data from the last few days reveals just how devastating the Covid-19 crisis has been for people of color.

Starting in New York City, the American epicenter of the outbreak: Black New Yorkers are dying at twice the rate of their white peers; Latinos in the city are also succumbing to the virus at a much higher rate than white or Asian New Yorkers. The same trends can be seen in infection and hospitalization rates, too.

Mother Jones compiled data from all of the states that break out their coronavirus data by race and ethnicity. The same thing we’re seeing in New York City is happening across the country: Black and Latino Americans get infected with Covid-19 at alarmingly high rates and more are dying than we would expect based on their share of the population.

A few horrifying examples from the charts you can find in the link above:

  • In Wisconsin, black people represent 6 percent of the population and nearly 40 percent of Covid-19 fatalities
  • In Louisiana, black people make up 32 percent of the state’s population but almost 60 percent of fatalities
  • In Kansas, 6 percent of the population is black and yet black people account for more than 30 percent of the Covid-19 deaths

The proportions can change depending on the state, but the trends are consistent anywhere you look: Compared to their share of the population, greater numbers of people of color die than their white neighbors in this pandemic.

Why is that? Well, there are the more acute reasons (black and Latino people are being put at risk more in their day-to-day lives) and then there are the structural reasons (long-standing economic and health disparities between white people and people of color).

On the first, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in NYC is a useful and disturbing example. As the New York Times reported last week, bus and subway workers have been hit hard by the coronavirus: 41 dead and more than 6,000 either diagnosed with Covid-19 or self-quarantining because they have symptoms that suggest an infection, as of April 8.

Who works for the MTA? Black people and Latinos. They account for more than 60 percent of the agency’s workforce in New York City, according to estimates from 2016.

Black people in particular are overrepresented in the MTA; they are 46 percent of the city’s transportation workers versus 24 percent of its overall population. (White people, on the other hand, make up 30 percent of local MTA employees but 43 percent of NYC residents.)

This is, again, true across cities and sectors. As Devan Hawkins wrote in the Guardian, black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be employed in the essential services that have been exempted from state stay-at-home orders, and they are more likely to work in health care and in hospitals. In America as in other countries, health care workers make up a disproportionate share of Covid-19 cases.

Read more at Vox.

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