With the recent events, COVID-19 has impacted many communities, but people of color are being impacted harsher than others. An analysis for the Guardian, released that about 80% of State Health Departments have released some sort of racial demographic data on the impact of the coronavirus in their communities, revealing clear disparities in the impact of COVID-19 in black and latina communities. However, over half of those states didn't include Native Americans in their breakdowns of the virus, categorizing them as "other."
However, in the states that did report Native Americans, there seemed to be disproportionate rates of infection and death. The Arizona department of Health Services reported that Native Americans made up 16% of the State's COVID deaths, despite them only representing 6% of the state's population. At the end of April, the health authority for the Navajo Nation, which includes areas in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah reported 1,197 confirmed cases along with 44 deaths. If the navajo nation was a state, it would be ranked as third in the country for confirmed cases per 100,000 population, behind New York and New Jersey.
That doesn't mean that those communities are more susceptible to the virus than other communites. However, most native americans have a lack of resources. The lack of unequal access to health care, clean water, and nutritional food, as put them at a greater risk for developing complications. According to the CDC, Native Americans experience diabetes three times more than any other ethnic group in the United States, and they also have the highest rates of asthma.
However, it's just not Native Americans that have these underlying conditions and lack of resources. African American communities are also being impacted. A CDC report showed shocking results. Out of 580 patients hospitalized, 45% of those individuals were white, compared to 55% in surrounding areas. 33% of african americans were hospitalized, compared to 18%. The data suggests that there is an overrepresentation of blacks amongst whites that are hospitalized. New York City identified death rates among african americans. It was 92.2 deaths per 100,000 people. For hispanics, it was 74.3 deaths per 100,000 people, and for caucasians, 45.2 deaths.
The question is: Why are these communities being impacted? Along with lack of resources, most of these ethnic communities are in densely populated conditions due to institutional racism in the form of residential housing segregation. Living in densely populated areas may make it harder to practice social distancing. Work circumstances also contribute to infection. Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs compared to 16% of non-hispanic whites. Hispanic workers account for 17% of total employment, but constitute 53% of agricultural workers, African Americans make up 12% of all employed workers, but account for 30% of licensed and practical vocational nurses. Being an essential worker, immediately puts those communities at risk, increasing the percentage if they have underlying conditions such as diabetes or asthma.
However, it's not just states that are being impacted harshly. Prisons are facing a crisis with the coronavirus. Some inmates at Alabama state prison facilities are asking for help with the recent events of the Coronavirus. One prisoner, in an exclusive interview footage obtained by ABC news, states "It's fixin' to be a mass grave site." The video also showed inmates talking about the lack of access they have to hand-washing and displayed a level of overcrowding that precluded their ability to practice social distancing.
Another prisoner in Alabama says "My thing for the outside world is, help. Help. Help for the overcrowding, help for sanitary purposes, help for a release mechanism. We need to release some of these people, we need help." The conditions in prison from COVID-19 aren't just threatening those incarcerated, but also presenting a broader public health crisis. Although, the virus is rapidly spreading throughout the nation's prisons.
In the New York correctional system, there is an emerging trend where the number of positive cases among city correction staff has outpaced the number of infected inmates. There were 273 staff members that tested positive for the coronavirus, compared to 239 inmates.
At the Cook County Jail in Chicago, one of the largest single-site jails in the country, the number of cases continue to spike. It's first two detainees tested positive on March 23rd and by April 3rd, 210 detainees tested positive. Topeka K. Sam, a prison reform activist states "There's no such thing as social distancing inside prisons. There's no way to be six feet apart, there's no way to properly wash your hands, There's not enough soap. They can't use hand sanitizer because alcohol products that are in them and they are considered contraband."
There are nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities across the country, Sheriffs nationwide are attempting to mitigate the risks in a variety of ways, including instituting visitor restrictions, enhanced precautions for staff, and attempts to enforce social distancing.