Black Americans still suffer from COVID-19’s public health and economic consequences two years into the pandemic and multiple variants that have resulted in one million deaths across the United States. Most people of color’s recovery has been sporadic and uneven. Experts say it will take years for Black Americans to fully recover from the pandemic, citing factors such as permanently closed businesses, limited access to health care, housing and food insecurity, suicide and violent crime increases, and educational setbacks.
Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to be hospitalized due to coronavirus. Pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes are examples of risk factors. They are more likely to have critical tasks that cannot be completed remotely. According to the CDC, nearly 25% of employed Black and Hispanic people work in the service industry, which requires more interaction with the public and an increased risk of COVID-19. It also matters where African Americans live. They are more likely to reside in multigenerational households and densely populated cities. Some people have limited access to medical care. They either do not have health insurance or are not paid when they miss work to seek treatment.
“The larger Black community was caught up in the pandemic, having to suffer disproportionately economically, medically, academically, and otherwise,” says Maryland U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume. “And so, when we finally get out, the way we come out will probably be best characterized by those same markers that were in play when we went in.”
Black men’s life expectancy has been reduced by three years. During the first year of the pandemic, 40% of Black businesses closed. Some reopened, only to be forced to close again due to the Delta and Omicron variants.
Every statistic you can find shows that the disparities and gaps between white Americans and Black and brown Americans are profound and significant.
Most Black and Latino service workers remain unemployed in large numbers in many cities, particularly in Washington, D.C…Government workers have yet to return to offices fully, and business, leisure, and convention travel are still a fraction of their pre-pandemic levels.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report based on CDC data, black and Hispanic people are still twice as likely to die from COVID-19, but disparities in coronavirus cases and deaths have narrowed since the pandemic began.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, life expectancy reductions for Black and Latino Americans were three to four times greater than for White Americans. According to the CDC, Black Americans have experienced the most significant decline in life expectancy since World War II, with the racial gap in life expectancy at a 15-year low. As a result, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be much worse.
Furthermore, there has been an alarming rise in suicides among young black adults, particularly females – including former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, 30, actress Regina King’s 26-year-old son, Ian Alexander Jr., and Walking Dead actor Moses Moseley, 31.
Yet still, there is hope born from the resilience of all Black Americans. It is in our DNA to be creative and improvisers, surviving where no one thought we would.