New data released by New York City health officials shows a stark divide in coronavirus cases between African-American and Latino neighborhoods and more affluent areas of the city— some with death rates as much as 15 times higher.
During the pandemic, many have considered New York City as been the American epicenter, with 191,000 cases and 15,000 confirmed deaths according to city data. Figures previously released by the city showed the Black and Latino residents are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites.
But new data is showing exactly where predominantly nonwhite communities are being affected. For example, the southern portion of the largely African American and West Indian East New York community in Brooklyn had 612 deaths per 100,000 while Central Park South, one of the wealthiest zip codes in the Five Boroughs had 50, and Gramercy Park showed 31. Both are overwhelmingly white areas.
Areas of Queens, the Bronx, northern Manhattan and Staten Island, with large Black, Latino and Asian populations, are all showing much higher death and infection rates from the virus.
Those communities are also more likely to have residents who are essential workers, like hospital, food service and other low-wage jobs, who cannot work from home and that have longer hours, according to federal labor data.
This suggests they are more exposed than in communities where most of the people can work from home.
“It’s really heartbreaking and it should tug at the moral conscience of the city,” Mark Levine, chairman of the New York City Council’s health committee, told Reuters. “We knew we had dramatic inequality. This, in graphic form, shows it’s even greater than maybe many of us feared.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has increased the number of testing sites statewide, including more testing availability throughout New York City. He pledged to get more testing available to get a clearer picture of where the pandemic is affecting people most.
“It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price. Why is that?” Cuomo said at an April 10 press appearance. “Let’s figure it out. Let’s do the work. Let’s do the research. Let’s learn from this moment, and let’s learn these lessons, and let’s do it now.”
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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