Harvard Business Review
The Disproportionate Impact of Covid-19 on Black Health Care Workers in the U.S.
Grieving families, social distancing, economic disruption: In many respects, coronavirus has changed the world. But it also has exposed the startlingly consistent toll that catastrophe exacts from black communities. The old adage that “when white America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia” has become a chilling reality.
Recent data coming out of New York, Chicago, and Louisiana indicate that deaths from Covid-19 are disproportionately high among communities of color — black and Latino patients in particular. Though blacks are only 22% of New York City’s population, as of mid-April they constituted 28% of fatalities from the virus. In Chicago, where blacks are 30% of the population, they comprise 70% of those killed by Covid-19. In the state of Louisiana, blacks are 32% of the population but 70% of those dead from the disease.
As some states move to reopen against the advice of public health professionals, these numbers are likely to get even worse. As we prepare for this, we should also begin asking another, interrelated question: What impact will this growing death toll have on black health care providers, particularly black doctors and nurses?
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