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Maybe Ms. Bradley, a Michigan nurse, brought it from her hospital. Maybe it came from a visiting relative. Maybe it was something else entirely. What is certain — according to new federal data that provides the most comprehensive look to date on nearly 1. Racial disparities in who contracts the virus have played out in big cities like Milwaukee and New York, but also in smaller metropolitan areas like Grand Rapids, Mich. Those inequities became painfully apparent when Ms.
Bradley, who is Black, was wheeled through the emergency room. Early s had shown that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the virus at higher rates. But the new federal data — made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reveals a clearer and more complete picture: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.
Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors, according to the new data, which provides detailed characteristics of , infections detected in nearly 1, U. And Black and Latino people have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people, the data shows. The disparities persist across state lines and regions.
The data also showed several pockets of disparity involving Native American people. In much of Arizona and in several other counties, they were far more likely to become infected than white people. For people who are Asian, the disparities were generally not as large, though they were 1. The new federal data, which is a major component of the agency's disease surveillance efforts, is far from complete. Not only is race and ethnicity information missing from more than half the cases, but so are other epidemiologically important clues — such as how the person might have become infected.
And because it includes only cases through the end of May, it doesn't reflect the recent surge in infections that has gripped parts of the nation. Still, the data is more comprehensive than anything the agency has released to date, and The Times was able to analyze the racial disparity in infection rates across counties representing more than half the U. A tickle at the back of the throat. But soon came fevers and trouble breathing, and when the pair went to the hospital, they were separated.
Bradley was admitted while Mr. Bradley was sent home. He said he felt too sick to leave, but that he had no choice. When he got home, he felt alone and uncertain about how to treat the illness. It took weeks, but eventually they both recovered.
When Mr. Bradley returned to work in the engineering department of a factory several weeks later, a white co-worker told Mr. Bradley that he was the only person he knew who contracted the virus. By contrast, Mr. Bradley said he knew quite a few people who had gotten sick. A few of them have died. Public health officials and elected leaders in Michigan said there was no clear reason Black and Latino people in Kent County were even more adversely affected than in other parts of the country.
Among the counties with at least 5, Black residents for which The Times obtained detailed data, the infection rate for African-American residents is higher than the rate for white residents in all but 14 of those counties. Similarly, for the counties with at least 5, Latino residents analyzed by The Times, have higher infection rates for Latino residents than for white residents. Experts point to circumstances that have made Black and Latino people more likely than white people to be exposed to the virus: Many of them have front-line jobs that keep them from working at home; rely on public transportation; or live in cramped apartments or multigenerational homes.
Latino people have also been infected at a jarringly disparate rate compared with white people. One of the most alarming hot spots is also one of the wealthiest: Fairfax County, just outside of Washington, D. Three times as many white people live there as Latinos. Yet through the end of May, four times as many Latino residents had tested positive for the virus, according to the C. And many have had to keep commuting to jobs. She and her brother, who also works construction, soon fell ill, too. With three children between them, the six family members live in a two-bedroom apartment. Diana, who was born in the United States but moved to Guatemala with her parents as a small child before returning to this country five years ago, is still battling symptoms.
We have to pay our utilities. We just have to keep working. At Culmore Clinic, an interfaith free clinic serving low-income adults in Fairfax, about half of the 79 Latino patients who tested for the virus have been positive. The risk of getting sick from tight living quarters, she added, is compounded by the pressure to keep working or quickly return to work, even in risky settings.
The risks are borne out by demographic data. Across the country, 43 percent of Black and Latino workers are employed in service or production jobs that for the most part cannot be done remotely, census data from shows. Only about one in four white workers held such jobs. Also, Latino people are twice as likely to reside in a crowded dwelling — less than square feet per person — as white people, according to the American Housing Survey. The national figures for infections and deaths from the virus understate the disparity to a certain extent, since the virus is far more prevalent among older Americans, who are disproportionately white compared with younger Americans.
When comparing infections and deaths just within groups who are around the same ages, the disparities are even more extreme. Latino people between the ages of 40 and 59 have been infected at five times the rate of white people in the same age group, the new C. The differences are even more stark when it comes to deaths: Of Latino people who died, more than a quarter were younger than Among white people who died, only 6 percent were that young. Jarvis Chen, a researcher and lecturer at the Harvard T.
Chan School of Public Health, said that the wide racial and ethnic disparities found in suburban and exurban areas as revealed in the new C. C data should not come as a surprise. The discrepancies in how people of different races, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses live and work may be even more pronounced outside of urban centers than they are in big cities, Dr. Chen said. The Times obtained the C. To date, the agency has released nearly 1. The Times asked for information about the race, ethnicity and county of residence of every person who tested positive, but that data was missing for hundreds of thousands of cases.
They said that the C. Many state and local authorities have been overwhelmed by the volume of cases and lack the resources to investigate the characteristics of every individual who falls ill, C. Even with the missing information, agency scientists said, they can still find important patterns in the data, especially when combining the records about individual cases with aggregated data from local agencies.
Still, some say the initial lack of transparency and the gaps in information highlight a key weakness in the U. The higher rate in deaths from the virus among Black and Latino people has been explained, in part, by a higher prevalence of underlying health problems, including diabetes and obesity. But the new C. Bassett, a former New York City health commissioner, said there is no question that underlying health problems — often caused by factors that people cannot control, such as lack of access to healthy food options and health care — play a major role in Covid deaths.
The differences in infection case rates are striking, said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Nuzzo said. In June, C. They said they could not determine whether these unreported cases had racial and ethnic disparities similar to those seen in the reported infections. But they said that more-severe infections — which are more often associated with underlying health conditions, and with people seeking medical care — are more likely to be recorded as cases.
That difference in the reporting of cases might explain some portion of the race and ethnicity disparities in the of documented infections, C. But they said that it was also clear that there have been ificant disparities in the of both deaths and cases. To measure how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting various demographic groups in the United States, The New York Times obtained a database of individual confirmed cases along with characteristics of each infected person from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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