Poll: Black People Are 4 Times More Likely to Know Someone Who Has Died of COVID-19 - OZY | A Modern Media Company
COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on African Americans, even as the pain of the pandemic is felt across all sectors of society.


Because the toll of the virus is not evenly spread.

By Nick Fouriezos

“It bothers me how people seem to have just awakened to the fact that our communities have been leading in the disparity gap for a mighty long time, and we did not just get here,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, her voice emphatic over the Zoom call made necessary after her city’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cantrell was joining OZY and OWN on April 19 for a special edition of the town hall TV show Black Women OWN the Conversation (you can watch here). Her words threw into sharp relief the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on African Americans, even as the pain of the pandemic is felt across all sectors of society.

That disparity is made even clearer by a new public opinion poll conducted by Fordham University, published first by OZY on Thursday.

A full 23 percent of Black Americans report having known someone personally who died as a result of the virus, compared with only 13 percent of Latinx and 6 percent of white Americans.

“The numbers really paint a picture of two Americas, as is so often the case.
African Americans are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic in a far more personal way than are white or Latinx Americans,” says Monika McDermott, a professor of political science at Fordham and director of the poll.

The probability-based, scientific sample of 1,003 respondents nationwide was conducted April 16–20, with a margin of error of 4.33 percentage points. It found that nearly a third of Black Americans report still going to a workplace, as compared with approximately a fifth of white and Latinx Americans. That reality helps explain why Black Americans — despite telling pollsters that they are going out less often to visit relatives or pick up takeout orders than other racial groups — are contracting coronavirus, and dying, at much higher rates.

The results come as states across the country debate whether and how to come out of the virus-induced lockdown. “If you are reopening service industry jobs, which are disproportionately minority jobs, then you are even further putting these populations at risk,” McDermott says.

There are additional hurdles for African Americans to even get tested for the virus. As Philadelphia pediatric surgeon Ala Stanford said on Black Women OWN the Conversation, the roadblocks to getting diagnostic tests are numerous: You have to be a health care worker, an elderly resident in an assisted living facility or sick enough to be admitted to a hospital and have a doctor’s referral. “If you don’t have a relationship because of the lack of trust, and our historical perspective with medicine in this country, who are you supposed to call to get tested?” Stanford said.

That question led OZY CEO Carlos Watson, the show’s moderator, to put it even more bluntly: “In the harshest phrase, [somebody] could say that sounds like a death sentence.”

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