NEW YORK CITY — A comprehensive report released today confirms in extensive detail that the coronavirus has affected people in communities of color more severely than others. The extent to which is sobering. However, the new report, despite containing some devastating news, could form the foundation for change, according to a prominent legal scholar, and other advocates.
The report, called The State of Black America — Unmasked, was a months-long study made in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University. It had some harsh reveals.
When it comes to the number of deaths from COVID-19, Black people are twice as likely to die as white people.
One in 3,350 white Americans dies from COVID-19, while a slightly higher fraction of Latinos die: 1 in 3,000.
For Black Americans, however, 1 in 1,450 dies from the virus.
Hospitalizations also show a dramatic disparity.
For every 10,000 people in the community, 213 Black Americans have had to be admitted to the hospital for the disease.
It’s a slightly lower number for Latinos: 205.
White Americans, however, have a drastically lower hospitalization rate: 46 per 10,000.
The reasons for the disparities were also laid out in the report. It concluded that far fewer Blacks and Latinos are able to work from home, where they’re less likely to encounter the virus.
Nearly 20% of Black Americans and 16.2% of Latinos are able to work from home, compared to 29.9% of whites.
It’s a clear picture that shows that people of color, especially Black Americans, are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
However, a legal scholar with a strong record for effecting change through the courts said that the National Urban League report could be the beginning of widespread change and improvement.
John Banzhaf is a professor at The George Washington University Law School. He’s also the reason why there are no cigarette ads on television, and why most public places in America are smoke-free.
Banzhaf took the tobacco industry to court, and won — again and again.
He told PIX11 News that the information in the State of Black America report can be the start of real change.
“If Blacks, for example, are suffering death or disability disproportionately from whites,” Banzhaf said in a Zoom interview, “we have what is called disparate impact. Something is having a disparate impact, and on that basis you can begin a lawsuit, or an administrative action before a regulatory agency.”
From there, the legal options expand.
“People can go in and subpoena doctors and hospital records and find out what’s going on, and why,” Banzhaf continued. “In that way, we may move some of this concern, to use a mild word, from the streets, where it’s now being carried out, and into the courts and regulatory agencies, and that, I think, would be good. Because it’s courts and regulatory agencies, probably more than people on the streets, that can actually do something about this problem.”