The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on poor and low-income communities across America is laid bare in a new report that concludes that while the virus did not discriminate between rich and poor, society and government did.
As the US draws close to the terrible landmark of 1 million deaths from coronavirus, the glaringly disproportionate human toll that has been exacted is exposed by the Poor People’s Pandemic Report. Based on a data analysis of more than 3,000 counties across the US, it finds that people in poorer counties have died overall at almost twice the rate of those in richer counties.
Looking at the most deadly surges of the virus, the disparity in death rates grows even more pronounced. During the third pandemic wave in the US, over the winter of 2020 and 2021, death rates were four and a half times higher in the poorest counties than those with the highest median incomes.
During the recent Omicron wave, that divergence in death rates stood at almost three times.
Such a staggering gulf in outcomes cannot be explained by differences in vaccination rates, the authors find, with more than half of the population of the poorest counties having received two vaccine shots. A more relevant factor is likely to be that the poorest communities had twice the proportion of people who lack health insurance compared with the richer counties.
“The findings of this report reveal neglect and sometimes intentional decisions to not focus on the poor,” said Bishop William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign which jointly prepared the research. “The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking and unjust.”
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Source: The Guardian, 4 April 2022