Covid-19 Impact on Minorities
The Covid-19 global pandemic the world has been struggling with for the past 10 months has impacted many for a variety of reasons. For many around the world, this pandemic has drastically changed their life in lasting ways. We have all felt the devastating effects of COVID-19 on our families and communities. It is unmistakable that this pandemic has led to a near total disruption of our social fabric. Social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic groups at a greatly increased chance of getting sick and dying from the coronavirus. Those who are part of different minority and poverty groups are affected greatly by the Coronavirus.
People from many racial and ethnic groups are more likely to be uninsured than any other race. Minorities are two times more likely to experience poverty in their lifetime and they are highly affected by COVID-19. Healthcare access can also be limited for these groups with factors such as child care, lack of transportation, cultural differences between patients and providers, communication and language barriers, and historical and current discrimination in healthcare systems. Majority of the people from non-white ethinic groups also may hesitate to seek healthcare because they distrust the government and healthcare systems responsible for inequities in treatment.
Many members of racial and ethnic minority groups live in neighborhoods that are far from grocery stores and medical facilities and lack safe and reliable transportation, making it harder to gather supplies that would help them to stay home and to receive care if ill. Members of racial and ethnic minority groups may be more likely to rely on public transportation, which makes it overall more challenging to practice safe social distancing. In some cultures, it is common for family members of many generations to live in one household. People who live in multigenerational households and multifamily households may find it hard to protect older family members or isolate those who are sick if space in the household is limited.
The mortality rate for COVID-19 within African Americans is more than two times more than those with whites heritage. In Washington, DC, African Americans consist of a higher amount of death in that area. Though the numbers have varied throughout the course of the pandemic, the racial disproportion is clear. New York City, one of the largest cities that has been hit the hardest by the virus this year, had confirmed COVID-19 deaths were 220 and 236 per 100,000 for African American and Hispanic patients. This is almost doubled to the 110 and 102 per 100,000 for whites and Asians.
Before the pandemic, poverty rates in the United States were 22% for African Americans, 24% for Native Americans, 19% for Hispanics, compared to the 9% for whites. The average wealth of a white income household is almost ten times the wealth of African American households. These minority groups have less financial capacity to make it through the pandemic successfully. It is not surprising that minority groups consist of a disproportionate percentage of workers in essential jobs during the pandemic. Continuing on, only 20% of African American workers have the ability to work from home compared to the 30% of whites Americans.
A report by New York City showed that 75% of frontline and essential workers in the city are people of color. African Americans make up almost 40% of the transit workers and more than half use public transportation. African Americans are more likely to use public transportation to commute to work compared to whites Americans. Only 55% of essential workers in the food service industry have access to paid sick leave. These working conditions undoubtedly contribute to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities.
Poverty is known to be one of the largest contributors to death and disease in America, but the striking differences in racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19 provide a chance to verify the link between income and health. The lack of access to health care is one of the world’s most intense challenges people can face. Homelessness is also a factor to minorities obtaining the virus. When the pandemic first began citizens were told to stay home, but that is not the case for the homeless citizens of the world. One cannot stay home if a home is not available.
Inequities in access to high-quality education for some racial and ethnic minority groups can lead to lower high school completion rates and barriers to college entrance. This may limit future job options and lead to lower paying or less stable jobs. People with limited job options likely have less flexibility to leave jobs that may put them at a higher risk of exposure to the virus. People in these situations often cannot afford to miss work; even if they are sick with a deadly virus, they do not have enough money saved up for essential items like food and other important life prolonging necessities.
Some people from racial and ethnic minority groups live in crowded conditions that make it more difficult to follow prevention laws. In addition, growing and disproportionate unemployment rates for most racial and ethnic minority groups during the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to larger risk of eviction and homelessness. Increased coronavirus cases and deaths among African Americans can be linked to the same factors that are affecting other minority communities. Discrimination, which includes racism, can lead to chronic and toxic stress, and shapes social and economic factors that put some people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk for COVID-19.
Health equity is the principle underlying commitment to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. It means pushing for the highest possible standard of health for all people not matter their ethnic background and giving special attention to those in needs and those who are at the greatest risk or who have poor health because of social conditions. Having equal health care for all citizens in the world would not only help with the slowing down of the Coronavirus but would help all races in the long run.
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