President Trump told Axios’ Jonathan Swan, ‘It’s under control as much as you can control it,’ in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
Black people and Latinos are four times more likely than white people to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and Black people are twice as likely as white people to die from the virus, according to a report published Thursday by the National Urban League.
Those health results stem from people of color tending to live in more crowded housing, which allows easier transmission of the respiratory virus, and people of color being less likely to be able to work from home, according to the leagues annual report called State of Black America Unmasked.
“This is a crisis,” said Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League. “Those with underlying conditions are more likely to get sick. Those that have less access to doctors and hospitals are going to be diagnosed much later. When theyre diagnosed much later, they are more likely to be hospitalized, theyre more likely to die.”
In addition to the pandemic that has killed more than 162,000 Americans, the 2020 report comes at a time of national protests for racial justice after the deaths of Black people in police custody and an economic collapse that shrank the economy 33% during the second quarter.
More: Leaders were slow to bring COVID-19 testing to Latino communities. Now people are sick.
Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, described the domino effect of African Americans being more likely to work in front-line jobs such as police and firefighters, or in service jobs in hospitals, hotels and restaurants, that run greater risk of infection because they can’t be performed from home.
A nurse cleans a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator at a Stamford Hospital intensive care unit on April 24 in Stamford, Conn. The hospital opened additional ICUs to deal with the people suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)
“Systemic racism, economic inequality, and the state of our democracy have been brought into sharp focus,” the report said. “Like an earthquake exposes the fault lines in the earth; the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fault lines in America’s social and economic institutions.”
Mayor McKinley Price of Newport News, Va., said the coronavirus pandemic compounds and complicates the problems with higher rates of illness and death.
Its still ravaging our country, said Price, who is president of the African American Mayors Association, which has about 500 members.
More: Hispanic, Black children at higher risk of coronavirus-related hospitalization, CDC says
Michael McAfee, CEO of PolicyLink, a research institute for racial and economic equity, said disparities in health or housing or jobs for people of color are persistent because they were designed into the system, by neglecting universal health care or by steering low-income housing into areas with higher pollution.
Pandemics are always going to exacerbate whats already there, McAfee said. This nation is suffering from its own arrogance. Other countries around the world are showing you what it looks like when you provide health care for your people.
Based on information from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, the Urban League report notes:
- Infection rates per 10,000 people at 62 for Black people and 73 for Latinos, compared to 23 for white people.
- Hospitalization rates per 100,000 people at 213 for Black people and 205 for Latinos, compared to 46 for white people.
- Death rates of one in 1,450 for Black people, one in 3,000 for Latinos and one in 3,350 for white people, possibly because the Black population is older and more at risk from pre-existing conditions.
- The portion of employees able to work from home: 19.7% for Black people, 16.2% for Latinos and 29.9% for white people.
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The annual report also contains an equality index, which documented Black people and Latinos trailing white people in categories such as economics, health, education, social justice and civil engagement. Black people ranked 73.8% of equality with white people across those categories, while Latinos ranked 78.8%. Progress has been slight since the National Urban League began publishing the index 15 years ago.
The disparities are still wide,” Morial said. “Thats structural racism, that the definition of structural racism, that the disparities are frozen in rock, frozen in ice.”
More: Black women and Latinas struggle to buy food, build savings amid COVID-19, study says
Nationwide protests for racial justice also have focused the spotlight on economic and health issues.
Its made us more aware of the disparities and inequities in our communities, from criminal justice to health care to financial housing conditions to transportation, Price said of the protests. We just cant keep one part of society down and expect to live up to what this country is about.
But researchers and officials see signs of progress, despite the gloomy statistics. McAfee said real influence extended beyond the street protests to people of color winning elections as city council members, state prosecutors and members of Congress.
This is real power building that has to happen if youre going to be able to influence this political economy, McAfee said. Its been wildly successful. While we may not have all of the structural changes that want yet, were actually starting to get people in positions of power that can see Black and brown peoples humanity.
More: Bad data is bogging down the COVID-19 fight; US ‘needs to change,’ experts say
Morial said progress on jobs and economic equity could draw inspiration from programs such as the New Deal under President Franklin Roosevelt or the Great Society under President Lyndon Johnson.
You can make a difference, but we have to make a difference about structural racism,” Morial said. “You cant be pretend.”
Newport News is rebuilding one of its public-housing neighborhoods with federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grants called the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Price said that sort of program allows the city to fight chronic poverty with development and job training.
Weve got to attack those areas where we have concentrated poverty and trying to transform those communities,” Price said. Were attacking it from all fronts.”
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