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68% of people in NYC working class neighborhood test positive for COVID-19 antibodies: NYT. Poor people are worst affected by SARS-COV-2

2020-07-10

photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann (geralt) via pixabay.com

From the New York Times on July 9:

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

The novel coronavirus has hit poor people and people of color harder than anyone else during this pandemic.  New York City experienced a wave of infections from March through May, mostly brought in by visitors from Europe.  Overall, the city showed some 20% positive results on antibody testing.  Upper-class neighborhoods were not affected as much as lower-class places.  People who had to continue coming to work, travelling on the subway and on buses, and coming home to crowded households, were hit the hardest.

People who are of African-American and Caribbean-American ethnicity, Hispanic, and Native Americans and people from the Marshall Islands, were hit hardest of all.  A third of the population of the Marshall Islands– 30,000 people– migrated to the United States over the last thirty to fifty years (partly because unemployment there was as high as 40%.)  Most of them are permanent non-citizen residents of the US; many settled in Arkansas, Washington State, and Oregon.

Many people from the Marshall Islands were forced to relocate after their homelands (the Bikini Atoll in particular) were rendered uninhabitable by radioactive contamination from atomic testing.  Many of these people, poor and uneducated, took jobs working in meatpacking plants.  Now they are suffering from frequent infection with SARS-COV-2 and are often getting sick or dying as a result.  In northwest Arkansas, Marshall Islanders represent 3% of the population and half of the deaths.

COVID-19 affects non-white people more than anyone else.  Well-to-do, mostly white, people, can work from home or have moved to their second homes in rural areas.  Poor people have lost their jobs or work in “essential” but poorly-paid industries; they also live in crowded households and are unable to isolate.  The result is more infections.  They also have more co-morbidities like high blood pressure and diabetes, so they get sicker.  When they do get sick, they don’t have as much health insurance.  They have to go to hospitals in poorer parts of the city that have a lower quality of care.  So they die more often.

Nowhere is this disparity as great as with Native Americans and Marshall Islanders.

The bottom line is that, in the US, poor people of color are being hit the hardest by COVID-19.  Poorer parts of the world are also more affected; South America and India are the worst off.

The system is failing, and it is failing the hardest for poor people.  The federal government must take this into account when allocating resources to help with this pandemic– but it won’t.  There is no better argument for not re-electing Republicans in November.

 

 

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