Coronavirus Is The Third Leading Cause of Death Among Black Americans, Report Says

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

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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.

Black Americans Covid
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.

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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.”

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