People of Color Account for 64 Percent of Coronavirus Cases in the U.S.

African-Americans and Latinos are vastly overrepresented when it comes to coronavirus infections, according to an analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday morning. 

The findings provide additional confirmation that, as the CDC’s own report says, black and brown communities have been “disproportionately affected” by the pandemic. African-Americans account for only 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau, but the CDC says they accounted for 22 percent of coronavirus infections studied in the new analysis. (A little more than half of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. do not include racial data, making a complete picture of the pandemic’s racial outcomes effectively impossible.)

Latinos represent 18.3 percent of the population, according to the last census of the American population, conducted a decade ago. But the CDC found that they suffered 33 percent of the coronavirus infections in the cohort covered by the study.

Native Americans account for 1.3 percent of infections across the nation, which is just slightly more than their share of the general population (1.2 percent). The coronavirus has affected the Navajo Nation, a reservation across three Southwestern states, with exceptional force.

White Americans accounted for 36 percent of coronavirus infections, while they make up 76.5 percent of the nation’s population. Asian-Americans, people of Hawaiian-Pacific Islander background and people who identified as biracial or multiracial represented much smaller shares of the infected population.

The new data, the first from the federal government to fully describe the pandemic’s racial impact, comes amid continuing protests against police killings of black men. Those protests have highlighted broader inequalities in American society, including those pertaining to how widely different communities can access proper health care.

“The disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on people of color is staggering,” Sen. Kamala Harris, D.-Calif., told Yahoo News. Harris is the author of the COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act, which would focus federal attention on how race has factored into the nation’s response to the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 120,000 Americans.

Harris explained that poor health outcomes for people of color were “due in large part to disparities in access to health care, systemic barriers to affordable housing, and environmental injustice that existed long before the pandemic. The federal government must be proactive in righting these historical wrongs,” added the junior senator from California, who is also a potential Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose prospects during the Democratic primary were bolstered by African-Americans in South Carolina and other states, has spoken in recent weeks more boldly than he has before on issues of racial justice. Writing recently on Medium, Biden said “structural racism” was to blame for the worse health outcomes experienced by people of color in the coronavirus pandemic. He deemed the situation “unconscionable” and, like Harris, called for better data to understand the scope of the problem.

Though health researchers and journalistic outlets have tried to address the lack of data, the CDC’s case surveillance study appears to be the most complete effort to address that shortfall. The report also discusses comorbidities that exacerbate the effect of the coronavirus, such as lung disease and diabetes. It also analyzes coronavirus infections by gender and age.

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SOURCE: Yahoo News, Alexander Nazaryan