At first, the coronavirus pandemic was called the great equalizer.
It seemed to be affecting people of all races, backgrounds and income levels, from Hollywood actors to NBA players to low-wage service workers.
But as more data becomes available, one thing is clear: Covid-19 has only magnified the systemic inequalities that persist in the United States. And nonwhite Americans, especially African Americans, have been hit hard on nearly every front.
Though the available data paints a grim picture, the numbers are incomplete. Much of the state and federal data on Covid-19 cases and deaths are preliminary, while race and ethnicity information isn’t even available for tens of thousands of cases. Advocacy groups have called on the federal government to release more detailed numbers, and experts and community leaders fear that the reality may be even worse.
“When white America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia,” Steven Brown, a research associate at the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, told CNN Business.
Here’s what we know about how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting African Americans.
Dying at higher rates
African Americans are dying at disproportionately higher rates compared to all other ethnicities.
As of Thursday, 16,329 black Americans are known to have died due to Covid-19, according to an analysis from the American Public Media (APM) Research Lab.
That’s out of approximately 61,000 deaths for which race and ethnicity data was available. About 75,000 people total had lost their lives to the coronavirus at the time of the analysis, a number that has risen to more than 77,000 as of Friday.
APM compiled its data from the 38 states and the District of Columbia that are reporting the race and ethnicity of residents who have died of Covid-19.
To put those numbers into context, African Americans make up about 13% of the US population, according to the Census Bureau, but 27% of known Covid-19 deaths.
In contrast, about 60% of the US population is white, but make up 49% of known Covid-19 deaths. Hispanics or Latinos are about 18% of the population, and 17% of deaths. Americans of Asian descent make up about 6% of the population and 5% of deaths.
A recent study by a team of epidemiologists and clinicians at four universities found similar results. That study compared counties with a disproportionate number of black residents — those with a population of 13% or more — with those with lower numbers of African American residents.
Counties with higher populations of black residents accounted for 52% of coronavirus diagnoses and 58% of Covid-19 deaths nationally, according to the study.
“Social conditions, structural racism, and other factors elevate risk for COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in black communities,” wrote the researchers from Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Mississippi and Georgetown University.
More likely to live in viral hotspots
In some cities and states, the disparities are even more glaring — and Latinos are greatly affected too.
Black residents in Kansas are seven times more likely to die of the virus than white residents, according to the APM Research Lab analysis.
In Missouri, Wisconsin and Washington, DC, African Americans are six times more likely to die than whites, the APM analysis found, and in Michigan and, they’re five times more likely.
In Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oregon and South Carolina, African Americans are three to four times more likely to die of the virus than white residents, according to the APM analysis.
In New York City, more than 2 in 1,000 black and African American residents have died of Covid-19. More than 2 in 1,000 Hispanic and Latino residents have died of the virus, rates that are substantially higher than those seen in the city’s white and Asian populations.
In California, Latinos are 39.8% of California’s population, though they make up 48% of Covid-19 cases, according to the state’s health department.
Looking at the death rates across different age groups, the impact is even starker. Latino residents make up 43% of the state’s population aged 18-49, but nearly 70% of deaths, according to the state’s health department. For residents ages 50-64 and 65 and older, the death rates are disproportionate as well.
In Chicago, Latinx residents make up 38% of the city’s Covid-19 cases, more than any other demographic. According to Census data, Hispanics are 29% of the city’s population.
Even for black Americans who might not have gotten infected themselves, the devastation has been personal.
About 1 in 4 black adults say they personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died due to having the coronavirus, according to Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, about 1 in 10 white and Hispanic adults say they know someone who has been as seriously affected by the virus.
They’re losing their jobs at high rates
The pandemic has been devastating economically across nonwhite communities.
Millions of Americans lost their jobs in recent weeks, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.
The unemployment rate soared to 14.2% for white Americans, 16.7% for black Americans, 14.5% for Asian Americans and 18.9% for Hispanics, record highs for all ethnic groups except African Americans.
Many more are experiencing pay cuts and other wage losses.
Some 61% of Hispanic Americans and 44% of black Americans said in in March and April that they or someone in their household had experienced a job or wage loss due to the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 38% of white adults, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
The losses are especially devastating because black and brown communities were already in precarious economic situations.
Some 73% of black Americans and 70% of Hispanic Americans said in March and April that they do not have rainy day funds to cover expenses for three months in case of an emergency, the Pew survey found.
As cities ramp up their enforcement of social distancing, it appears black people are disproportionately affected there.
More than 80 percent of those who were issued summonses for social distancing violations in New York city were black and Latino, according to data released Friday, confirming what advocates and local elected leaders have clamored about after the enforcement started over six weeks ago.
The data revealed 374 summonses were handed out from March 16 to May 5, averaging less than 10 summonses a day over the 42-day period. And that total, 193 of those issued summonses were black and 111 were Hispanic, according to the New York City Police Department.
The summonses were issued for what the NYPD said were violations of emergency procedures and acts likely to spread disease. Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that the disparities were indications that something needed to be fixed.
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