Data and Policy Solutions to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19, has rapidly transformed our lives. Fears of community spread of the virus have led policy makers to close schools and nonessential businesses and implement orders to shelter in place. While these efforts have slowed the spread of the virus, some parts of the country, including New York City and New Orleans, have nevertheless witnessed overwhelming increases in COVID-19 cases and related deaths.
The burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality has disproportionately fallen on minority populations. Early in the pandemic, lower rates of COVID-19 testing were reported among minority communities. Now, emerging data illustrate that black and Hispanic Americans are dying at far higher rates from the novel coronavirus than any other groups in the nation.1,2 These disparities are just the most recent manifestation of centuries’ worth of racial and ethnic gaps in health outcomes.3