Examine finds that COVID-19 is hitting older Black and Latinx individuals hardest

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Study finds that COVID-19 is hitting older Black and Latinx persons hardest

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A study co-authored by a Florida State University researcher found that COVID-19 affects a disproportionately large number of people of color in the United States.

Patricia Homan, assistant professor of sociology and fellow at FSU's Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, said she and her colleagues found the difference between the impact of COVID-19 on older, white communities and their black and Latin American counterparts sharply is.

The study "The Color of COVID-19: Structural Racism and the Disproportionate Effects of the Pandemic on Older Black and Latin American Adults" was published in the Journals of Gerontology. Homan wrote the study with Marc Garcia and Catherine Garcia from the University of Nebraska and Tyson Brown from Duke University.

The study sourced data from the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, academic literature, and news sources, and found that the COVID-19 death rate among black adults aged 65 and over is about three times higher than that of whites in the United States same age group. Latinx people aged 65 or older are twice as likely to die from the novel coronavirus as their white cohorts.

The results are symptomatic of larger structural forms of racism manifesting in all black and Latin American communities across the country, Homan said.

"We have embedded systems of inequality in large social institutions," she said. "There are racial and ethnic prosperity gaps and job segregation. White households are more affluent. Black and Latin American people are more likely to live in overcrowded, multi-generational households that cannot be isolated when exposed to COVID."

She continued, "We know black and Latinx people are over-represented in high-contact jobs like grocery and retail. Jobs that don't offer insurance or paid sick leave. So they have to keep working outside the home because they need it." the money. This also puts them at an increased risk of exposure to COVID. "

The toll of living in a society where cases of discrimination are exacerbating daily, a factor that Homan and her co-authors refer to as weathering processes, also causes premature aging and the associated health complications.

"We know from previous studies that these communities experience deterioration in health earlier in life and have steeper and faster health declines over the course of their lives due to accumulated exposure to racism," she said.

Access to quality health care is also an aggravating factor, according to the study. Black and Latinx people tend to focus on low-wage jobs with no benefits like employer-sponsored health insurance. In addition, segregation in residential areas influences the distribution of care and steers minorities in hospitals, which tend to be overwhelmed and in which the quality suffers.

"We know that black and Latin American people who have access to care receive lower quality care and face other structural inequalities and prejudices about doctors," she said. "Minorities have longer waiting times and are less likely to receive adequate and effective treatment for their pain."

The factors that help explain the different effects of COVID-19 are complex and lead to a much bigger conversation about races, Homan said.

"It won't change if we don't reduce structural racism," she said. "In criminal justice, education, health care and employment, to name a few, we need social policies to reduce systemic inequality and improve the health of the population."

Coronavirus Infection by Race: What's Behind the Health Differences?

More information:
Marc A. Garcia et al. The Color of COVID-19: Structural Racism and the Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic on Older Racial and Ethnic Minorities, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B (2020). DOI: 10.1093 / geronb / gbaa114

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Florida State University

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