weekly blog--one for the ages
The U.S. enters the ninth month of the CoVid pandemic with more than 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 189,000 confirmed deaths. Every day, the case count rises by around 40,000 and the death toll by around 800 because many sections of the country have not followed the science and taken the threat seriously.
Egregious lies and conspiracy theories aside, distorting the debate around whether to stay at home, wear masks, or open colleges has prevented citizens from grasping the scope of the crisis, and pushed leaders toward bad policies.
A Kaiser Health News analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores the extent of the vulnerability to African Americans. It found that those ages 65 to 74 died of COVID-19 five times as often as whites. In the 75-to-84 group, the death rate was 3.5 times greater. Among those 85 and older, they died twice as often. In all three age groups, death rates for Hispanics were higher than for whites but lower than for Blacks.
Social and economic disadvantage, reinforced by racism, plays a significant part in unequal outcomes, according to the KHN analysis. Throughout their lives, Blacks have poor access to health care and receive services of lower quality than does the general population. Starting in middle age, the toll becomes evident: more chronic medical conditions (diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obesity, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, among others), which worsen over time, and cause earlier deaths.
At the same time, many vulnerable Black seniors are deeply distrustful of government and health care institutions, complicating efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact.