As COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the United States surpass the 3 million mark, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, evidence shows the health crisis is disproportionately impacting minorities. In particular, Latino Americans are bearing the brunt of the burden.
New data released by the CDC highlights the racial disparities that encompass the pandemic. Their report analyzed the deaths of 10,647 Americans who died from coronavirus complications between Feb. 12 and May 18, 2020.
Specifically, the study looked at deaths of individuals ages 65 and under. Of the victims observed, 35% of fatalities were attributed to Latinos with 30% assigned to African-Americans.
These findings are consistent with a recent New York Times report that said, "Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors.”
This claim is supported by statistics which documented 640,000 infections throughout the United States. An examination of the data found that, “Black and Latino people have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people.”
What is causing this heightened risk for minorities?
On an aggregate level, much of the turmoil is attributable to demographics. With a large portion of minorities living in close proximity to each other, social distancing is hard to practice. However, a look at workplace compositions offers a more precise answer.
Citing data from the 2018 census, The New York Times reported that “43% of Black and Latino workers are employed in service or production jobs that for the most part cannot be done remotely.”
Conversely, “only about one in four white workers held such jobs.”
For Latinos, the pandemic has been especially dangerous in the workforce. NBC News journalist Suzanne Gamboa reported the dire conditions facing Latino laborers in America’s meat processing plants. According to Gamboa, CDC statistics reveal that 87% of those infected at these facilities “were among racial and ethnic minority workers, with 5,584 cases occurring in Latinos through May 31.”
These figures highlight the gross inequities that exist in our county. This imbalance is systemic in nature and symptomatic of a larger problem.
Until Americans are ready to address the root cause of these socioeconomic issues, little will change. And minorities will continue to experience a very different version of the American dream.