Structural Racism Contributed to the Unequal Toll of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on July 13, 2021

A new study commissioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and conducted by the University at Albany explored how structural racism contributed to the unequal toll of the coronavirus pandemic on New York’s communities of color. The study analyzed the physical, social, and economic consequences that resulted from the pandemic and was one of the first to establish racial and ethnic disparities from COVID-19 in New York. Researchers conducted antibody testing of over 15,000 residents across 26 counties in April 2020 and found that Black and Hispanic residents had antibody rates exceeding their share of the population by a respective 6 and 19 percentage points, while rates among whites and Asians fell short of their populations by a respective 34 and 1 percentage points. The study also indicated that Black and Hispanic residents had higher death rates compared to whites due to higher levels of exposure and infection. Apart from unequal physical impact, Black and Hispanic residents have also been disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, job losses, concerns about eviction, and difficulty paying bills.

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