NEW JERSEY — A new study out Wednesday in New Jersey details why Black and Latino residents are two to three times more likely than white residents to get COVID-19, become hospitalized and die. The report calls for state action to address inequities that have resulted in more deaths in minority communities.
“We are seeing this disproportionate impact across the state,” said Dr. Brittany Holom, a senior policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective.
“This of course goes back to policies of segregating, whether it’s segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools, access to nutritious food,” said Holom. “The long history of structural racism in this state.”
The report finds Black and Latino residents represent over half of essential workers, making them more exposed and more likely to be commuting on mass transit.
They’re also more likely to hold low paying jobs, meaning less health care coverage and less money to buy nutritious food.
Residents of color have also seen higher unemployment rates thanks to the crisis, resulting in a lack of health care access for some.
“What we really need is some systematic changes for next pandemic, to be prepared,” said Holom.
The report found that out of all New Jersey counties, only Mercer County had a written plan to deal with a pandemic before COVID-19 emerged.
It calls for more diversity in the medical field and more health data collection among minority communities.
The report also calls for greater funding for the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, which is part of the New Jersey Department of Health. Funding for the office has remained flat for over 15 years.