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1 in 500 Americans have died of COVID-19

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At a certain point, it was no longer a matter of if the United States would reach the gruesome milestone of 1 in 500 people dying of COVID-19, but a matter of when. A year? Maybe 15 months? The answer: 19 months.

The burden of death in the prime of life has been disproportionately borne by Black, Latino, and American Indian and Alaska Native people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

“So often when we think about the majority of the country who have lost people to covid-19, we think about the elders that have been lost, not necessarily younger people,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, executive vice president at the Seattle Indian Health Board and director of the Urban Indian Health Institute. “Unfortunately, this is not my reality nor that of the Native community. I lost cousins and fathers and tribal leaders."

The pandemic has brought into stark relief centuries of entwining social, environmental, economic and political factors that erode the health and shorten the lives of people of colour, putting them at higher risk of the chronic conditions that leave immune systems vulnerable to the coronavirus. Many of those same factors fuel the misinformation, mistrust and fear that leave too many unprotected.

Many people don’t have a physician they see regularly due in part to significant provider shortages in communities of colour. If they do have a doctor, it can cost too much money for a visit even if insured. There are language barriers for those who don’t speak English fluently and fear of deportation among undocumented immigrants.

“Some of the issues at hand are structural issues, things that are built into the fabric of society,” says Enrique W. Neblett Jr., a University of Michigan professor who studies racism and health.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Washington Post, 15 September 2021

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