The new coronavirus has killed or sickened thousands of New Yorkers and people of color are the most vulnerable victims in its path.
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Newly released data by the city shows Hispanic New Yorkers are facing the highest rates of mortality as a result of COVID-19.
Thirty-four percent of fatalities so far are of Hispanics, followed by 28 percent of black New Yorkers. The per-capita death rate is double that of white New Yorkers.
- Hispanic: 34% (29% of population)
- Black: 28% (22% of population)
- White: 27% (32% of population)
- Asian 7% (14% of population)
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the disparities track with the same inequities seen throughout the health system as a whole.
“The disparities that plague this city, this nation, that are all about fundamental inequality are once again causing such pain and causing innocent people to lose their lives. That is abundantly clear. It’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong,” de Blasio said.
Faced with higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, poor New Yorkers of color are now falling victim to the virus at a higher rate.
Socioeconomics is also making a difference. A disease that can only be prevented by distancing and avoiding contamination is killing those who live in close quarters and families in crowded apartments -- not just the old and infirm.
The data also illustrates another harsh reality: many of those same New Yorkers are still going to work. They are in the service industry, the public workers, the staff keeping supermarkets stocked, and they’re delivering your food.
Now, there are questions about whether the city has done enough to prevent the current outcome.
Councilman Francisco Moya, who represents parts of Queens, including Elmhurst -- one of the hardest-hit areas of the city -- said the city could have done more to connect with those on the ground, educate them about resources, and ensure people were taking precautions.
“The first couple of days, the majority of patients coming in -- close to 90 percent -- were all Latino," Moya said. “We needed to be out there early on, talking about this to our community, giving them the message of what social distancing is all about. If you can’t stay home and you have to commute, what to do.
"I always say that if you are reacting, then you’re already too late."
Now, officials are launching a multi-million dollar effort to reach communities in their native language, increase education prevention, and connect them to a 311-like system so that people who are sick can speak to a clinician from home.
De Blasio said a perfect plan could have never been put into place.
“We have never been here before. What we do know is the kinds of outreach we used to do -- which we would have done immediately -- couldn’t be done in the first instance," he said.
The data is preliminary, and while hundreds of New Yorkers dying at home, the city’s counts remains imperfect.
But one thing is clear: while COVID-19 does not discriminate, it is exposing serious inequalities in the health care system that existed long before this pandemic.