NJPP REPORT: Unprecedented and Unequal: Racial Inequities in the COVID-19 Pandemic
For Immediate Release
Contact: Louis Di Paolo (NJPP): 201-417-5049 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14, 2020 – New Jersey’s communities of color have been disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).
The report, Unprecedented and Unequal: Racial Inequities in the COVID-19 Pandemic, reviews New Jersey Department of Health data and finds that Black and Latinx residents are overrepresented among the state’s COVID-19 positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
“No matter how you measure it, Black and Latinx residents have been disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brittany Holom, Ph.D., report author and NJPP Senior Policy Analyst. “This is a problem all over the state, not just in the areas that were hit first or hardest by the pandemic. This did not happen by accident — it is a direct result of our nation’s history of racism and the chronic underfunding of public health initiatives.”
According to the report, Black and Latinx people have been two to three times more likely to get COVID, about three times more likely to be hospitalized, and between two to three times more likely to die from the coronavirus.
“This report’s devastating, outrageous and groundbreaking findings — that Black and Latinx New Jerseyans are two to three times as likely to contract, be hospitalized or die from COVID than their white or Asian counterparts — should make every elected official in New Jersey drop what they are doing and ask the question, what can we do to end these inequities?” said Sara Cullinane, Executive Director of Make the Road New Jersey. “Top on the list must be ending disparities in our health care delivery and insurance system and ensuring all New Jerseyans have access to aid, especially New Jersey’s half million undocumented immigrants and their families who have been left behind by nearly every form of government aid. Our state cannot survive the pandemic if we do not put a priority on equity.”
The report finds that Black residents have been particularly overrepresented amongst cases in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Somerset, and Union Counties. This means that, even in places where the outbreak and surge began later and general protective measures were already put in place when the disease arrived, residents of color were still more vulnerable than others; their high numbers of deaths and cases were not just due to initial outbreak conditions.
“This report has given quantitative depth to what racial justice advocates have known to be true; the coronavirus does see color,” said Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Executive Director of Salvation and Social Justice. “The data show that even in places where the virus hit later, New Jersey failed to have a racially disproportionate response to a health crisis that we knew disproportionately sought people by race. I applaud the team at NJPP for giving advocates the information we need to push for racially just policy.”
The report highlights that Latinx residents were three times more likely than white residents to report lacking health insurance. Black residents were twice as likely as white residents to report lacking health insurance; they were also most likely (nearly 1.5 times more likely than white residents) to report both delaying medical care and needing medical care for something other than COVID-19, but not getting it, in the past four weeks.
“Access to health care should never be dependent on who you are, the color of your skin, how much money you make, or where you live,” said Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director, New Jersey Citizen Action. “Yet, as this report points out, people of color are far more likely to be uninsured, face barriers to care, and have worse health outcomes. The time is long overdue for New Jersey to make the investments and changes we need to ensure equal access to health care for all.”
The report concludes with recommendations for New Jersey to advance health equity, including: requiring regular state health racial equity impact assessments for policy proposals; increasing support for initiatives that improve trust in the medical system; encouraging policies that diversify the medical field and improve access to culturally sensitive resources; and building racial impact results into future public health crisis preparedness plans.
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