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From The Guardian - Ed Pilkington, Tue 8 Sep 2020
The death rate in the US from Covid-19 among African Americans and Latinos is rising sharply, exacerbating the already staggering racial divide in the impact of the pandemic which has particularly devastated communities of color.
New figures compiled by the Color of Coronavirus project shared with the Guardian show that both total numbers of deaths and per-capita death rates have increased dramatically in August for black and brown Americans. Though fatalities have also increased for white Americans, the impact on this group has been notably less severe.
The latest figures record that in the two weeks from 4 to 18 August the death rate of African Americans shot up from 80 to 88 per 100,000 population – an increase of eight per 100,000. By contrast the white population suffered half that increase, from 36 to 40 per 100,000, an increase of 4 per 100,000.
For Latino Americans the increase was even more stark, rising from 46 to 54 per 100,000 – an increase of nine per 100,000.
The new batch of statistics is a cause for concern on a number of levels. The death rate for all racial and ethnic groups had been falling through the summer but after the virus began surging through the south and midwest in July it produced a time-lagged spike in deaths in August that has driven the human suffering back up to previous grim heights.
"We are seeing more deaths among African Americans and Latinos than at any time this summer. So as we go into the fall, with schools and colleges reopening and other new avenues for exposure, it portends a very frightening future," said Andi Egbert, senior researcher with APM Research Lab, the non-partisan research arm of American Public Media that compiles the data.
On 18 August, the latest date on which the researchers have crunched the numbers, almost 36,000 African Americans had died from Covid-19. The new uptick means that 1 in 1,125 black Americans have died from the disease, compared with 1 in 2,450 white Americans – half the rate.
That striking disparity underlines a major failing at the heart of the US response to Covid. It has been known now for several months that the virus is exacting an especially punishing toll among communities of color, yet federal and state governments have not taken steps effectively to ameliorate the disaster.
"It's not breaking news that black and Latino communities are suffering and dying from Covid-19 in much higher rates than white Americans. But as the months drag on we see the death rates continuing to be much higher and even accelerating for vulnerable groups," Egbert said.
She added: "It's incredibly discouraging to know that we are aware of where the greatest vulnerabilities are and yet we've been ineffectual in our responses."
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