Racial residential segregation and economic disparity jointly exacerbate COVID-19 fatality in large American cities.
The disproportionately high rates of both infections and deaths among racial and ethnic minorities (especially Blacks and Hispanics) in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic are consistent with the conclusion that structural inequality can produce lethal consequences. However, the nature of this structural inequality in relation to COVID-19 is poorly understood. Here, we hypothesized that two structural features, racial residential segregation and income inequality, of metropolitan areas in the United States have contributed to health-compromising conditions, which, in turn, have increased COVID-19 fatalities; moreover, that these two features, when combined, may be particularly lethal. To test this hypothesis, we examined the growth rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in an early 30-day period of the outbreak in the counties located in each of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The growth curves for cases and deaths were steeper in counties located in metropolitan areas where Blacks and Hispanics are residentially segregated from Whites. Moreover, the effect of racial residential segregation was augmented by income inequality within each county. These data strongly suggest that racial and economic disparities have caused a greater death toll during the current pandemic. We draw policy implications for making virus-resilient cities free from such consequences.
Yu, Q; Salvador, CE; Melani, I; Berg, MK; Neblett, EW; Kitayama, S
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