Health Affairs  |  August 10, 2020

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Cases of coronavirus are rising in states across the U.S. and across parts of Latin America, Africa, and South Asia, showing that even the first wave of arguably one of the world’s most dangerous pandemics is far from over. The data on who is most likely to contract, and succumb to, the virus tell a sobering tale of the link between inequities in society and one’s chances of survival. In the case of the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed profound inequities that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that after adjusting for differences in age, Black people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at a devastating rate that is five-times that of White people in the United States. The severity with which COVID-19 has struck down front-line workers, from nursing home assistants to grocery checkers, emergency medical technicians to retail workers, further highlights the reality that those most vulnerable to diseases often have the fewest protections. The deep-seated policy failures that exacerbate health, economic, and racial disparities in the US need urgent local and national action.

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