The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting Black communities, multiple studies have found

By Ally Mauch
August 28, 2020 03:35 PM
Advertisement
Kena Betancur/Getty

The coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death among Black Americans, topped only by heart disease and cancer, according to a report from the Brookings Institute published earlier this month.

The report, titled “The Hamilton Project, Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis,” was co-authored by Trevon Logan, professor of economics at the Ohio State University, and Bradley L. Hardy of the American University in Washington D.C.

“If I told you on January 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third leading cause of death for Black Americans, our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” Logan told CBS.

A person in Los Angeles is tested for COVID-19
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty

Hardy and Logan’s analysis is in line with multiple previous reports, which have found that the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affects Black communities in the U.S.

“The outsized challenges that Black Americans are facing are a reflection of the generally diminished economic position and health status that they faced prior to this crisis,” the Brookings report reads. “Several pre– COVID-19 economic conditions—including lower levels of income and wealth, higher unemployment, and greater levels of food and housing insecurity—leave Black families with fewer buffers to absorb economic shocks and contribute to Black households’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

The factors they noted, in addition to a higher rate of preexisting health conditions, have contributed to higher mortality rates for Black Americans. “In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia,” the researchers wrote.

Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty

Hardy and Logan concluded that while many American families are hurting financially due to the pandemic, “Black Americans are generally in an even weaker position to absorb this economic adversity.”

They recommended policy changes to address these inequities: “Ultimately, robust, reliable fiscal policy responses to the crisis will help to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on families,” they wrote. “If the economic and public health crisis continues at its current pace, many American families will require such assistance, including a disproportionate share of Black families.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.