In America Blacks and Hispanics are Hit……., Why?

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In the wake of new data showing that Hispanic and black New Yorkers are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than other racial groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to come up with a plan to redirect resources and raise public awareness within the communities most affected by the disease.

In the wake of new data showing that Hispanic and black New Yorkers are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than other racial groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to come up with a plan to redirect resources and raise public awareness within the communities most affected by the disease.

On Wednesday, the city released data showing that 34 percent of the COVID-19 fatalities were Hispanic, while 28 percent were black. Whites, meanwhile, accounted for 27 percent of deaths. Asians were least represented in the total deaths, that of 7 percent. Elected officials have been pressuring the de Blasio administration to issue more detailed demographic data. At least eight states have already done so.

There is a positive correlation between zip code and percentage of cases in the Hispanic population; each dot represents a neighborhood.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who was among those who criticized the city for its failure to release racial and ethnic data, offered measured praise for the mayor’s new strategy, which included ensuring that public hospitals have sufficient equipment and supplies they need and a targeted media campaign in neighborhoods with the highest cases of COVID-19.

But he also argued that these initiatives, along with a full lockdown, should have been implemented weeks ago.

“Where is the bold lockdown that needs to happen?” he said. “Where is the emergency broadcast system that needs to be put in place? Where is the reassessing of what an essential worker is? We keep trying to tinker with these things and it’s costing people their lives.”

He said he was struck by the fact that the city’s data on race was incomplete, representing only 63 percent of the reported deaths by ethnicity.

A total of 37 percent of cases were marked as “unknown.” 

“I think if we had that information we’d see that dataset more starkly different and disparate,” he said. “And we know that people are dying at home, particularly in these black and brown communities that also are not being counted.” 

Following a Gothamist/WNYC story about a surge in at-home deaths, the city will begin counting those deaths in which COVID-19 was identified as the probable cause. The city’s health department is aiming to incorporate race and ethnicity data in those cases as well.  Both City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres had publicly called on the administration to provide racial breakdowns of cases and deaths.

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson

✔@NYCSpeakerCoJo

No one should be surprised by this confirmation that Black and Hispanic communities are bearing a disproportionate share of the coronavirus pain. This pandemic is showing the ramifications of systemic health care disparities and our relief efforts should work to rectify this. https://twitter.com/MaraGay/status/1247888937441353728 …

Mara Gay

✔@MaraGay

Confirmed coronavirus deaths in NYC by race compared to population, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio just now:
34% – Hispanic (29% of population)
28% -Black (22% of population)
27% – White (32% population)
7% – Asians (14% of population)

Torres, who was the first City Council member known to have tested positive for coronavirus, said he found Wednesday’s data alarming, adding that they confirmed his suspicions that black and brown communities have been more vulnerable to the disease.

According to the state, 86 percent of the fatalities had at least one comorbidity, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Those are the same conditions that afflict black and Hispanics, particular those in low-income communities. 

“Hypertension is more than three times more prevalent in the South Bronx than in the Financial District,” Torres said. “Diabetes is more than five times more prevalent in the South Bronx than in the Financial District. The data is crystal clear that poverty predisposes people to the worst effects of COVID-19.”

Torres also pointed to two public hospitals, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, as serving areas that have large immigrant communities. 

“All Americans are paying a price, but communities of color have the heaviest cross to bear,” he said. 

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, de Blasio said the data reinforces the existing health disparities across the city.  “It made me angry to see that the disparities that have plagued this city, this nation, that are all about fundamental inequality are once again causing such pain, and once again, causing innocent people to lose their lives,” he said. “It’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong and we’re going to fight back with everything we’ve got.”

There is a positive correlation between zip code and percentage of cases in the black population; each dot represents a neighborhood.

The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said as recently as Sunday that the city was not reporting this racial demographic information because the data from its health partners was incomplete. She said the Department of Health has taken additional steps to collect this information, including by working with hospitals to address the legal and technical challenges to access their electronic records.

In response to the new data on race, the mayor said the city would take a series of steps to help communities hardest hit by the virus. The initial focus remains ensuring the city’s public hospitals, including hard hit places like Elmhurst Hospital, have the ventilators, medical personnel and personal protective equipment they need. 

The city also plans to launch a TV, radio, and digital public awareness campaign in 14 different languages with a focus on the zip codes with the highest cases of COVID-19. The mayor said the city will also begin doing more grassroots outreach, with robo-calls, texting and home visits from community health care providers.

Asked why the city was just beginning this targeted response nearly a month after the city’s first COVID-19 fatality, de Blasio insisted the city had been communicating the risks all along.

“You go back and look at all the messages, all the efforts made to educate and inform people, to get them help, to help them know where to turn, there is a huge amount that was done,” said de Blasio.

But he added, “It’s quite clear now we have to go to another level.” 

#DATA #BILL DE BLASIO #RITCHIE TORRES #PUBLIC ADVOCATE #JUMAANE WILLIAMS #RACE #CORONAVIRUS #COVID-19

This graph allows you to compare the county totals more easily- note how NYC outstrips any of the other counties.
  • This graph allows you to compare the county totals more easily- note how NYC outstrips any of the other counties.
  • When normalized for population, Rockland and Westchester counties are leading the other downstate counties in cases by a large margin. On April 8, Lombardy, Italy would be around 534 on this graph. Nassau and Suffolk counties have more cases per capita than New York City.
  • Over time, as social distancing works, we should see each county curve flatten to a horizontal line.
  • Queens and Brooklyn have larger populations than the other boroughs, so they have more cases.
  • At the beginning of the outbreak, all boroughs had similar infection rates, but over time, Queens and the Bronx have pulled away from the other three boroughs.
  • Deaths
  • It will be easier to discern when the curve flattens by only looking at new deaths.
  • The case fatality rate for COVID-19 has been estimated around 2%. In cases that led to death, the average duration was about 18 days. As social distancing and other restrictions work, new deaths will flatten and eventually fall, but because death takes on average 18 days, this will be delayed from any policy changes by almost 3 weeks.
  • New York City continues to make up the majority of New York State deaths. Note: New York City often does not post true new death numbers until 7pm.
  • When viewed by borough, Queens has the most deaths because it has the most population and the highest number of cases.
  • However, once we normalize the death count by population of each borough, the Bronx turns out to have a significantly higher death rate than Queens.
  • By dividing the total number of deaths by the total number of positive cases, we can calculate the Case Fatality Rate per borough. It’s 70% higher in the Bronx right now than in Manhattan. This could be an overstatement because of a paucity of testing in the borough, or it could reflect a real difference in case outcomes, reflecting differences in demographics and health between the different parts of the city.
  • Each day the New York City Department of Health releases demographic data on COVID-19 deaths. Overwhelmingly, those who die of COVID are aged 65+ and/or those with pre-existing health conditions, which the DOH defines as: “Diabetes, Lung Disease, Cancer, Immunodeficiency, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Asthma, Kidney Disease, and GI/Liver Disease.”
  • On April 8th, the New York City Department of Health released its first demographic breakdown on COVID fatalities by race and ethnicity. It showed the Latino and African American New Yorkers were dying at twice the age-adjusted per capita rate as white New Yorkers.

Hospital Capacity

  • Over time, serious cases of COVID will put patients in the hospital, and once they’re unable to breath on their own, into the Intensive Care Unit. Before the crisis, New York State had approximately 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds. Governor Cuomo has said he aims to increase that stock to 140,000 beds and 30,000 ICU beds by the expected apex of the crisis in mid-April.
  • While total hospitalizations and ICU cases have increased, the percent of positive cases requiring hospitalization or ICU treatment remained fairly steady, at around 14% and 3.5%, respectively. However, starting on April 3, the percent of positive cases requiring hospitalization began to slowly drop, perhaps a signal of a forthcoming apex in cases.

Bending the Curve

  • One measure of whether the curve is bending is whether new discharges from the hospital exceed those patients newly admitted to the hospital. That hasn’t happened yet, but the curves are getting closer.

Comparing New York City to Other Hard Hit Areas

What Will Happen Next?

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