America’s failed coronavirus response hurts people of color most

Two new studies yet again reiterate the fact that people of color have borne the brunt of America’s coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: The longer we go without improving testing, protecting essential workers, updating ventilation systems, securing nursing homes or ensuring that sick people can safely isolate at home, the more already vulnerable people will continue to suffer.

The big picture: Black and Latino or Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to catch the virus, require hospitalization or die from it.

  • Other minority groups, like American Indians, are also overrepresented in some states — including Arizona, which saw one of the summer’s worst outbreaks.
  • White Americans were underrepresented in coronavirus hospitalizations in every state included in a new study published yesterday in JAMA.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report yesterday supporting the notion that Latino and Hispanic Americans are more likely to become infected at work than white Americans are.

  • As of June 5, the Utah Department of Health had reported 210 workplace coronavirus outbreaks. Hispanic or Latino and nonwhite workers made up 24% of the workforce in the affected sectors, but accounted for 73% of workplace outbreak-associated cases.
  • More than half of these workplace-associated cases were in three sectors: manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction.
  • “Systemic social inequities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Hispanic and nonwhite workers in frontline occupations where exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be higher,” the authors write.

The bottom line: These disparities stem from deep-rooted racial inequities that are baked into every part of American life, and fixing these will take a long time.

  • But bringing the pandemic under control isn’t as hard — almost every other wealthy country in the world has been able to do it by this point. America’s decision not to follow suit will continue to deepen its racial wounds until it changes course.

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