This article is a part of an ongoing series that examines Equity During COVID-19 in early childhood and how this crisis impacts young children and families of color disproportionately in health, education, and geography across North Carolina. An introduction to the series can be found here.
Data continues to show that Black Americans and Hispanics have a disproportionately higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. As of June 1, African Americans accounted for 30 percent of the overall COVID-19 cases in North Carolina and 34 percent of the deaths, but make up only 22 percent of the overall population, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
A report released by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, shared information from 16 states, including North Carolina, where Black residents make up a larger percentage of the population than the national average. Pew was interested in learning whether states with large Black populations were taking concrete actions to stem COVID-19 cases and deaths in Black communities.
The report highlights that North Carolina has taken action to lessen the spread of the virus by:
- Offering increased testing of non-symptomatic residents in predominantly Black communities by working with community leaders, local physicians, retail stores and health clinics.
- Surging contact tracing capacity in underserved, predominantly Black counties and communities.
- Setting up temporary housing to ensure a safe environment with the necessary supports (private room and bathroom, adequate food and water, and access to medication) for residents in low-income communities who are asked to quarantine.
Black North Carolinians are more likely to be impacted by the virus because of structural racism in our systems that results in Black workers:
- Being more likely to work in “high-touch” service-oriented fields than white workers, where they are more likely to be exposed to the virus
- Having less access to health insurance and healthcare, making them less likely to be able to access care for the virus when they get sick, and
- Having higher rates of underlying health conditions (partly because of having less access to insurance and high-quality care), making them more likely than white people to get very ill and/or die from the virus.
The full Pew report can be accessed here.