Report unveils COVID-19 racial inequities in NJ

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/22/2020, midnight
According to a report recently released by the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), major racial disparities exist in COVID-19 cases ...
COVID-19/Coronavirus/face mask Unsplash

According to a report recently released by the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), major racial disparities exist in COVID-19 cases in the Garden State. Black and Latino residents are overrepresented among the state’s coronavirus positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

More specifically, Black and Latino 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.

“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.”

The report finds that Black residents have been particularly overrepresented amongst cases in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Somerset and Union counties. 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.

Earlier this month Gov. Phil Murphy announced $60 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for the Local Government Emergency Fund to aid counties and municipalities that were excluded from the federal government’s direct CRF allocation plan These relief funds will help to address necessary and unexpected expenditures necessitated by the pandemic.

“Just like our county government has made it our priority to help our residents through the pandemic, leaders like Gov. Murphy have made sure that Burlington County and our local governments aren’t battling coronavirus by ourselves or leaving it to our property taxpayers to foot the bill for the response,” said Burlington County Freeholder Deputy Director Tom Pullion.

Black residents were twice as likely as white residents to report lacking health insurance; they were also most likely 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.

“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.”