Health News Roundup

Nationwide data is showing the disparate impact of the coronavirus on black and Latino populations, and more in this week’s roundup

Each week we scan the news to find articles about health equity. This week, we did not have to look hard – a reflection of the tragic reality that the coronavirus pandemic is magnifying the many inequities that already exist when it comes to health and well-being. Awareness is a critical first step, but there is so much more to do so ensure that the response to the outbreak and its consequences will help to close, rather than widen, disparities. As always, we welcome your feedback and wish you health and safety. Please email us with any questions, ideas or concerns at

Black and Latino residents hit particularly hard by COVID-19 in Connecticut, as experts fear disparities will widen
Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant, April 8
The racial and ethnic data available in Connecticut seems to be aligning with national trends. Early data shows that black people have been nearly twice as likely as whites to contract the coronavirus, while Hispanic people have been more than one-and-a-half times as likely. Governor Lamont made it clear that fair and aggressive testing was a priority for the state. The governor also noted that Connecticut has expanded Medicaid and imposed a 90-day grace period for health insurance payments and said officials would use hotel space to house people who fear coronavirus exposure but have nowhere safe to isolate. Connecticut has also committed to covering the costs for homeless shelters to move residents into hotels to aid in social distancing.
Related: Concern grows that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts minorities, but the data is incompleteThe Connecticut Mirror, April 8

Undocumented workers among those hit first — and worst — by the coronavirus shutdown
Tracy Jan, The Washington Post, April 4
The collapse of the U.S. economy brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerabilities of millions of undocumented workers, who are disproportionately employed in industries undergoing mass layoffs as well as high-risk jobs that keep society running while many Americans self-isolate at home. Undocumented immigrants can’t count on the social safety net if they lose their jobs or get sick. Most do not have health insurance or access to paid sick leave — putting them and the people they encounter at risk. Most aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance or the cash payments included in the $2 trillion relief package Congress passed last month — even if they pay taxes or their children are U.S. citizens.
Related: The doubled fears of the undocumented during the coronavirus shutdown, The New Yorker, March 31

Coronavirus has exposed the world to health disparities in black America: So what now?
Lisa Fitzpatrick, Forbes, April 8
By now the world knows coronavirus disproportionately affects black and brown communities in the US. Starting with a news story from Chicago where 70% of all COVID-19 deaths were among black people, over the next 24 hours a wave of attention focused on death disparities in black America wafted across the airwaves as news in other states highlighted similar disparities in LouisianaMichiganWisconsin and New York, where the death rate is similar for blacks and Hispanics. Now that everyone is aware of the problem, what’s next?

Early data shows African Americans have contracted and died of coronavirus at an alarming rate
Akilah Johnson and Talia Buford, ProPublica, April 3
The coronavirus entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb. Then it took root in the city’s black community and erupted. Environmental, economic and political factors have compounded for generations, putting black people at higher risk of chronic conditions that leave lungs weak and immune systems vulnerable: asthma, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. In Milwaukee, simply being black means your life expectancy is 14 years shorter, on average, than someone white.

CDC releases new data as debate grows over racial disparities in coronavirus deaths
Cheyenne Haslett, ABC News, April 8
New data released by the CDC this week highlights the racial disparities being seen in cities across the country. Although the data is still very limited, it is the largest amount of national data to have been provided so far. The data showed that 33% of hospitalizations were black even though the racial breakdown from the population in the report was 18% black, suggesting a disproportionate impact on black populations by COVID-19. Experts say the numbers represent systemic problems throughout the country that lead to black Americans having higher rates of underlying conditions and less access to care.

College made them feel equal. The virus exposed how unequal their lives are. 
Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, April 4
When they were all in the same dorms and eating the same dining hall food, the disparities in students’ backgrounds weren’t as clear as they are over video chat. Isabel Canning and Tatiana Lathion take the same class at Haverford College, but returned to very different homes after their campus closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While Ms. Canning is at her family’s vacation home in Boothbay, Maine, Ms. Lathion is helping her parents’ food truck business stay afloat in Jacksonville, Florida.