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Survey says nearly one-third of black Americans know someone who died of COVID-19

ANI | Updated: Jun 27, 2020 07:41 IST

Washington DC [USA], June 27 (ANI): Almost one in three black Americans personally know someone who has succumbed to COVID-19 infection, much greater than their white counterparts, as per a Washington Post-Ipsos poll.
Thirty-one per cent of black adults said they know someone firsthand who has died due to the virus, compared with 17 per cent of adults who are Hispanic and nine per cent who are white, according to the nationwide survey.
Those who know someone with COVID-19 symptoms, slightly over half of black Americans said they know at least one person who felt sick or died of the infection. Fewer than four in ten white or Hispanic Americans said they do.
The findings of the survey, taken together, attest to sharp racial differences in the sense that the virus is close at hand, after nearly half-year in which it has sparked the country's worst public health calamity in more than a century, The Washington Post reported.
As per authorities on health disparities, those differences arise from the country's deep-seated socioeconomic inequality and help to decipher the current unrest across the country in a drive for racial justice.
"This pandemic has really unearthed -- shone a real bright light on -- the ways these disparities should not be accepted and are not tolerable," Joseph Betancourt, vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was quoted as saying.
Responding to a question on whether it is important to try and combat the spread of COVID-19 or attempt to restart the economy, 83 per cent of black Americans said controlling the virus is a higher priority.
However, when the same query was put forth in a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month, in contrast, just about half of white Americans said that combatting COVID-19 is more important.
"The differences in proximity to coronavirus sickness and death align, too, with political attitudes," the survey said.
Over eight in ten Americans said that the coronavirus outbreak will be one of the key factors while deciding which presidential candidate to vote for in the election in November this year. The same view is being held by nearly as many as Americans who are Hispanic. But, fewer than six in ten who are white said the same.
The survey "tells us a lot about how the life experiences of individuals in the United States are different by race," said Georges C Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
"Life experiences drive a lot about how you view the world, how you make decisions and what you do," Benjamin added.
The survey's findings which focus on the frequency of knowing someone killed by COVID-19 hold a mirror to the well-established pattern that the virus has made deep inroads among black Americans in the country. The infection has been more likely to infect black Americans and more likely to have a catastrophic impact on their bodies if they contract it, according to The Post.
There is not much difference among racial and ethnic groups in the proportion of people saying that they know someone who had possible COVID-19 symptoms but does not know anyone who died, the poll said.
As many as 28 per cent of white Americans said they know someone with symptoms. The figure is slightly higher than among black and Hispanic Americans -- both at 21 per cent.
Among black Americans, the percentage of knowing someone who died rises steadily with age. Almost one in four adults younger than 35 said they know someone, as compared with over four in ten people who are aged 65 years and older.
The findings are "a true indication of reality," said Betancourt of Massachusetts General Hospital.
He said people of colour in the US tend to live with "a series of preconditions" that put them at a huge risk of contracting the virus and of then faring poorly. They include higher rates of poverty and the varied effects of structural racism, he added.
The downstream effects include crowded housing, more frequent asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases and a greater likelihood of being in jobs that do not permit them to work from home.
The Post-Ipsos poll was conducted between June 9 to 14 through Ipsos's KnowledgePanel, a large online survey panel recruited through random sampling of US households.
Results among the sample of 1,153 non-Hispanic black adults have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points, the error margin is 3.5 points among the parallel sample of 1,051 US adults overall, four points among the sample of 742 white adults and 10 points among the sample of 115 Hispanic adults, according to The Post. (ANI)

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