Data released by eight states show that this racial disparity appears over and over again. Blacks consistently make up a higher density of coronavirus infections and deaths than do whites.
It’s true among confirmed cases in Connecticut. It’s true with deaths in Louisiana. It’s true with confirmed cases and deaths in both Michigan — by a wide margin — and North Carolina. In nearly every state for which there is data, whites are underrepresented in the coronavirus statistics, with one exception: whites in Connecticut see a higher density of covid-19 deaths than they represent in the population.
It’s often the case that this disparity reflects the density of coronavirus cases in cities. Cities are more densely populated and have seen broader spreads of the virus. They are also less heavily white than suburban or rural areas, as data from Pew Research Center shows.
There have been a spate of stories in recent days noting the racial disparity in the coronavirus’s impacts in various cities. In Chicago, cases are heavily concentrated among black residents. In Milwaukee, as The Washington Post reported Monday, the same holds true. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) pledged Tuesday to release racial data for his city — though data that’s already been published show how poorer, more heavily nonwhite parts of the city have seen more coronavirus cases.
One report from a local news site in New York pointed out another point of overlap: The areas of the city with more coronavirus infections are also those places where more service workers live. Jobs in which people can’t or aren’t allowed to work from home are ones in which people might be expected to be more likely to contract the virus.
Nationally, whites are less likely to work in leisure and hospitality, education and health services and public administration jobs than nonwhites. Those are broad industry categories but ones that would seem to be more likely to be affected by disparities in post-coronavirus-shutdown employment.
A recent Post-ABC News poll shows that nonwhites are more likely to report negative economic effects from the virus and a higher likelihood of having been laid off after the pandemic emerged.
Whites are more likely to say that the local effects of the virus on the economy have been moderate or less, while a majority of nonwhites say the effect has been severe. While 39 percent of nonwhites report having been laid off or having a family member who has been laid off, a third of whites say they have not been laid off and aren’t worried that they will be.
In keeping with the state data, whites were also less likely to report being concerned about catching the virus and saw themselves at slightly less risk of doing so.
Nearly three-quarters of nonwhites said they were worried about themselves or a family member contracting the virus. Two-thirds of whites shared that concern.
It is still the case that the demographic group most at risk from the coronavirus is older Americans, who consistently make up a much higher percentage of hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19. But this emerging state data shows how race offers its own corollary to the effects of the disease — a correlation that overlaps with economics and geography in revealing, if predictable, ways.
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