American Blacks and Hispanics consider wearing masks a higher COVID-19 pandemic safety precaution compared to Whites, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center poll.
Results of the poll, taken in May, were published on Tuesday (July 5), as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a new variant of omicron is now dominant in the United States.
The AP-NORC study asked Americans about changes to their lives and their readiness to emerge from the pandemic, which has taken more than 1 million lives across the nation.
About 78 percent of Black people and 62 percent of Hispanics said it was essential or important to wear masks while in public, indoor spaces, according to the poll. Just 44 percent of White respondents in the survey of 1,001 U.S. residents said the same.
Black and Hispanic populations suffered disproportionately from the deadly pandemic. According to NBC News, the overall death rate for Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans was two to three times higher than white and Asian Americans.
At the height of the pandemic, Blacks were more likely than whites to work in jobs that exposed them to the virus and less able to take time off from work, CBS News reported. At the same time, the history of racism and inequality led to Blacks suffering from underlying health conditions that made Blacks more vulnerable.
The coronavirus subvariant known as BA.5 accounted for nearly 54 percent of the nation’s Covid cases as of Saturday (July 3), while a similar subvariant, BA.4, made up 17 percent.
"They're taking over, so clearly they're more contagious than earlier variants of omicron," Professor David Montefiori of the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center told NBC News.
In April, CDC Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Desmond Banks told BET.com that the Black community “needs to stay ready and protect ourselves” as COVID-19 cases possibly increase and new variants arise over the summer.
“The best way that we can protect ourselves is by being vaccinated and wearing masks whenever we're indoors,” Banks said. “Churches are reopening, people want to travel and do things for the summer. Those things are important, particularly important to our culture. We're trying to get back to normal or a new normal. The best way to do that is to be vaccinated and boosted.”