New data suggests the novel coronavirus is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans.
A report from the Brookings Institution examined how Black families were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and found it has become a leading cause of death. Only cancer and heart disease are deadlier. Black people are twice as likely to die from the virus when compared against white and Asian people.
“In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia,” the report stated.
The pandemic is the latest example of health disparities that affect Black Americans because of institutional racism, the report authors suggest.
“If I told you on Jan. 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third-leading cause of death for Black Americans our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” report co-author Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, told WTOP.
The study also looked at the economic ramifications of COVID-19 for the Black community.
Bradley Hardy, another member of the research team, told WTOP 50 percent of Black people live in households that have lost income since the pandemic started. Additionally, 20 percent of Black families experience some form of food insecurity.
“There’s not just well-documented income gaps, but there’s also really yawning wealth gaps,” Hardy said. “[Black] households don’t necessarily have that resource or that cushion to lean on.”
The study recommended “reliable fiscal policy responses” to help families cope.
“Inadequate additional federal economic relief — such as legislation that does not provide enough unemployment assistance and supplements to the safety net — potentially threatens the economic security of Black families,” the authors warned.
The Brookings study comes days after a report backed by the National Urban League found Black people are becoming infected at rates three times higher than those for white people. The report, titled “State of Black America Unmasked,” cited findings from American Public Media Research that showed Black people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Black people, along with Latinos, are four times more likely to be hospitalized compared to white patients. Part of the report’s findings is based on data from Johns Hopkins University.
The researchers also highlighted problems with access to coronavirus tests and racial bias.
“Black people with COVID-19 symptoms in February and March were less likely to get tested or treated than white patients,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial wrote in a blog post.
“Studies showed that doctors downplayed Black patients’ complaints of pain, prescribed weaker pain medication and withheld cardiac treatments from Black patients who needed them.”