Early in the pandemic, the virus had a disproportionate toll on Black and Latino Americans. During the initial months in 2020, the per capita death rate for Black Americans was almost twice as high as for white Americans and more than twice as high as for Asian Americans. The death rate for Latino Americans was above average as well, though below the death rate for Black Americans.
The gaps continued throughout the pandemic, the newspaper reported, as white and Asian Americans initially received vaccines quicker. Black and Latino Americans had less access to shots and waited longer to receive them.
But these gaps have appeared to change. During the past year, the COVID-19 death rate for white Americans has been 14% higher than the rate for Black Americans, and 72% higher than the rate for Latino Americans.
Part of the reason is the rapid increase in vaccination among Black and Latino Americans since last year, the Times reported. Now the vaccination rate for both communities is slightly higher than for white Americans. Local leaders, community organizers, and medical workers have led the charge for vaccination, the newspaper reported, designing outreach campaigns to fit their local communities.
In contrast, the number of white Americans who have received a COVID-19 vaccine has remained about the same since last summer, CDC data shows. One reason points back to the local level — in heavily conservative, white communities, local leaders haven’t emphasized disease risks or vaccine benefits, and in some cases, advised people not to get a shot, according to the Times.
Still, the overall risks for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death remain higher for Black and Latino Americans, according to CDC data. Due to the early disparities, lack of access to good health care, and underlying health conditions linked to systemic issues in the health care system, Black Americans still remain more vulnerable to severe illness than white Americans of the same age, sex, and vaccination status, the newspaper reported.
What’s more, Indigenous Americans — Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders — continue to suffer the highest rates of loss, which have remained consistently higher than other groups since 2020, CDC data shows.