What the Racial Data Show
I dread every time my partner leaves our home. I dread every time Sadiqa marches to the front lines of the war against COVID-19—the emergency department. I dread every time she comes home and removes her personal protective equipment.
Sadiqa is worried like a soldier in a total war, seeing so many medical providers going down, seeing so many patients going down. I am worried about her health—and my own, as someone surviving metastatic cancer. I am worried about all medical providers, all Americans who have compromised immune systems, all Americans who are infected, all Americans who are healthy and want to remain that way.
As a student of health disparities, I am especially worried about the well-being of people of color. And people of color appear to be especially worried about their own well-being. Black people, at 46 percent, and Latinos, at 39 percent, are about twice as likely as white people, at 21 percent, to view the coronavirus as a major threat to their health.
Last week, I called for states, counties, and private labs to begin reporting the racial demographics of the people who are being tested for, infected with, hospitalized with, or killed by COVID-19. In the absence of that information, I can’t tell for sure whether black and Latino Americans should be more worried than white Americans. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley recently urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lead the effort to collect and publish such data. Local leaders and editorial boards are pushing for the same.