While the death rate for New Yorkers with COVID-19 is staggering, it’s even more alarming for people of color.
In New York City, Hispanics account for 34 percent of COVID-19 fatalities, but only 29 percent of the population. African Americans represent 28 percent of fatalities, but only 22 percent of the population. Meanwhile, the data for whites shows this group comprises of 32 percent of population and yet only 27 percent of fatalities, while Asians make up 14 percent of the population, but only account for 7 percent of the fatalities.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera registered disgust at these disparities. As of April 8, 15,803 Bronx residents have tested positive, but there are only three testing sites in the borough and none in the south Bronx, which is heavily Latino and African American.
“The numbers released tell a disgraceful story,” Cabrera said. “What we in low-income communities of color have suspected all along is finally out in the open. There is a tremendous racial disparity in the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York City and throughout the United States the disparity is clear. These high numbers still don’t tell the whole story since there are far too many people who haven’t been able to get a test.”
The councilman acknowledged that people of color are more prone to the virus since many have underlying conditions such as diabetes or asthma, but the bigger issue is the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for essential workers.
“These health disparities have been known for a very long time, yet, they were not considered with the distribution of testing or personal protective gear,” Cabrera said. “It is the workers out there who are getting hit the hardest and they’re going to spread it when they get home because they’re not getting protective gear.”
Cabrera told the Bronx Times that, not only are a high amount of African Americans and Latinos essential workers without PPE, but many travel on buses and subways that aren’t adequately clean or safe.
Furthermore, many people of color live in low-income communities, where they need to go to the grocery store on a daily basis and risk getting sick, compared to others who can afford to order out.
“In the beginning the Bronx wasn’t affected as much,” he said. “The reality is people weren’t getting tested.”
Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez shares his frustrations. She noted her district has three of the biggest hospitals in the Bronx, a growing NORC, essentials workers and undocumented people with little or no healthcare.
“This pandemic is a class war and demonstrates the inequality of the healthcare system as it comes to a breaking point,” Fernandez said on Twitter. “Data shows that Latinx & Black populations are the hardest by this pandemic. These stats are DEVASTATING. #COVID19 is affecting lower income communities, such as ZIP 10467/9, which I represent. This is where we need State & Fed to step up on resources ASAP.”