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Blacks and Latinos Are Twice as Likely to Die From COVID-19, Says Data

Newly released figures reveal "a clearer and more complete picture.”
Male patient oxygen mask inhalation

It's been reported that African-Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. Now new numbers prove to what extent. "Early numbers had shown that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the virus at higher rates. But the new federal data—made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—reveals a clearer and more complete picture," reports the paper. "Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups."

"Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors, according to the new data, which provides detailed characteristics of 640,000 infections detected in nearly 1,000 U.S. counties," continues the paper. "And Black and Latino people have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people, the data shows."

Latinx Are Three Times as Likely to Test Positive

The data confirms what was found in previous studies—one recent study, published in JAMA, analyzed COVID-19 tests in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and found that Latinx people were triple as likely to test positive for the virus compared to any other ethnic or racial group. In total, over 37,727 tests were performed with an overall 16.3% testing positive for COVID-19. Broken down into ethnicity and race, 42.6% were Latinx people, 17.6% were African-American people, 17.2% for people identified as "other," and 8.8% for white people.

Another interesting finding was that the virus skewed younger in this group. The majority who tested positive—61.5%—were aged 18-44 years. In this same age group, just 28.6% of African-American patients who tested positive and 28% of white patients fell into this same age demographic. 

The Disparity is to Blame

That study proves that socio-economic disparity can be to blame. "Many of these patients tell me they delayed coming to the hospital until absolutely necessary because they were worried about medical bills, and were not sure if they could receive care because of their immigration status," study author Kathleen R. Page, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, MD, who treated many of the patients in the JAMA study, explained. "Most of the patients I've met are not eligible for benefits, have no health insurance, and rent rooms in crowded houses. The need to work, lack of occupational protections and crowded living conditions have led to high transmission in this community."

The new Times report comes with a few caveats. "The new federal data, which is a major component of the agency's disease surveillance efforts, is far from complete. Not only is race and ethnicity information missing from more than half the cases, but so are other epidemiologically important clues—such as how the person might have become infected," the reporters write. "And because it includes only cases through the end of May, it doesn't reflect the recent surge in infections that has gripped parts of the nation." 

As for yourself, the CDC recommends everyone wear a well-fitted face mask; practice social distancing; wash your hands frequently; and monitor your health.

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