Black people make up a disproportionate share of the population in 22 percent of U.S. counties, and those localities account for more than half of coronavirus cases and nearly 60 percent of deaths, a national study by an AIDS research group found.
The study also found that socioeconomic factors such as employment status and access to health care were better predictors of infection and death rates than underlying health conditions.
Gregorio Millett, vice president of Amfar, the Foundation for Aids Research, said the findings suggest that black people will be more vulnerable to the pandemic as states begin to reopen businesses and public spaces.
“It’s clear that there’s a disproportionate impact of covid-19 diagnoses and deaths among African Americans,” Millett said, adding that the authors of the study released it early in the hope of influencing policy decisions about reopening businesses. “All of my colleagues fear that with these policies to open up communities, that the brunt of the covid-19 epidemic is not going to be borne equally on all communities, that we will likely see greater covid-19 deaths as well as cases in African American communities.”
At the beginning of this, all sorts of wealthy or well-known people were dying. John Prine was the most notable from my perspective, but lots of elite New Yorkers of all stripes were getting sick. The New York Times started a “Those We’ve Lost” column about it. Now, and for the last three or four weeks, all the famous people are gone and sometimes they profile a MTA worker or a nurse or something. That’s because well-off people can stay at home. Middle class people can mostly stay at home. It’s the poor who can’t stay at home. That’s especially true when psychopathic governors like Kim Reynolds of Iowa wants to throw them off unemployment if they choose to prioritize their lives over their jobs. And in the United States, the poor means people of color, more or less. It means people working hard jobs in unsafe conditions. Then they return home to densely packed housing without green spaces. It means they are the ones who will die.
Now, it could be that two months from now, when the South and Midwest are death zones thanks to aggressive reopening demands from politicians that enough white people will die again that a demand for a lockdown again reappears. But so long as the people dying are disproportionately black or Latino or Native, well, lots and lots of white people are just not going to care.