According to a new study from The Washington Post, 1 in 3 Black Americans personally knows someone who has died from COVID-19.
Health experts said socioeconomic inequality is a reason for the disparity.
“This pandemic has really unearthed — shone a real bright light on — the ways these disparities should not be accepted and are not tolerable,” Joseph Betancourt, vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told The Post.
The report added that 17% of Hispanics and 9% of white people said they know someone whose life has been lost to the novel coronavirus.
According to The Post, people were asked whether it's more important to control the spread of the coronavirus or to restart the economy. The poll results showed that 83% of Black Americans preferred to control the virus. About half of the white Americans who answered the same question in a Washington Post-ABC News poll said controlling the virus is a priority.
Different racial groups also expressed various levels of confidence in knowing where to go for testing, ABC News reported. Compared to 46% of white Americans who said they know where to go for testing, only 29% of Black people and 35% of Hispanic residents showed confidence in knowing where to go. The ABC News study also determined that 38% of surveyed white Americans are confident in being able to get tested, compared to 25% for both Black and Hispanic people.
The study by The Post also examined how the pandemic is influencing political decisions. The results revealed that 8 in 10 Black Americans will factor in the pandemic when voting for a presidential candidate in November. A majority of Hispanics also expressed the same view, while fewer than 6 in 10 white people said the pandemic will not influence their vote.
Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said the survey “tells us a lot about how the life experiences of individuals in the United States are different by race.”
“Life experiences drive a lot about how you view the world, how you make decisions and what you do,” Benjamin said.
Lois Travillion, an 82-year-old retired educator, has seen two friends die during the pandemic. Travillion agreed with the views of many Black Americans, saying lives are more important than restoring the economy.
“There are so many people who have died," she told The Post. "You won’t even need the economy because there won’t be anybody around.”
Lester Danner, a 28-year-old who lives in northwest Mississippi, agrees.
“It’s important to control the virus because we have a walking-dead society with the virus in the air,” he said. “A lot of people have died.”
The poll showed similar numbers among races with those who said they know somebody who has had possible symptoms of COVID-19. Among white people, 28% said they know somebody who has had symptoms, and 21% of Black and Hispanic people answered similarly.
Betancourt said the poll results are “a true indication of reality,” adding that people of color are at greater risk because they are living with “a series of preconditions.” With ongoing issues of crowded housing, health conditions such as asthma and other chronic diseases, as well as jobs that don't allow them to work from home, Betancourt said Black Americans are more at risk during the pandemic.