There’s the old expression about how when white people get the cold, Black people get the flu. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only further demonstrated how true that expression is, as a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Black, Asian and Latino communities have consistently been hit the hardest by the virus.
According to CNN, the CDC found that last April, as the pandemic was beginning to take hold in the United States, only 11.4 percent of counties nationwide were reporting a high incidence rate. The CDC defines a high incidence rate as 100 new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people in the community. During that same time frame, the study found that 28 percent of counties with large Black populations were reporting a high incidence rate. For counties with large Asian populations, that number increased to almost 29 percent.
“Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have placed many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk for COVID-19,” researchers wrote. “CDC continues to work with local and state health departments to improve reporting of race and ethnicity data for individual cases.”
In August, the de facto mid-point of the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of counties in the country were reporting high incidence rates of COVID-19 cases. For counties with large Black populations, that number increased to over 92 percent. By December, nearly all counties across the country were reporting high incidence rates.
It may be some time until we know the full effect the pandemic had on Black communities, as the handling of the pandemic has been, to put it lightly, a whole fucking shitshow. There was no universal mechanism to report cases by race and ethnicity, and the CDC notes that data doesn’t exactly provide the fullest picture as race was not fully reported for a “proportion” of cases.
The data that we do have, though, has consistently shown that the Black population has disproportionately suffered from some of the pandemic’s worst effects. Whether that be small business closures, job losses, evictions, equitable vaccinations, suffering severe side-effects from the disease, or loss of life.