Hard hit by COVID-19, Black Americans are recovering slowly

Two years into the pandemic and multiple variants that have resulted in one million deaths across the U.S., Black Americans are still suffering from COVID-19’s public health and economic consequences.

PUBLISHED MAY 23, 2022

Re-posted from The National Geographics

Experts say it will take longer for Black communities to recover from the pandemic’s public health and economic impact.

For years, Latasha Taylor resisted her mother’s requests to join her in the family garden at sunrise. After her mother died from COVID-19 in 2020, Taylor, who lives in Dawson, Georgia, waters her mom’s plants to keep both the garden and her mother’s memory alive.

Linda Butler-Johnson, a 61-year-old widow, hasn’t had steady work for two years, not since she was laid off from her housekeeper job at a Washington, D.C. hotel in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her rent was paid by a city rental assistance program all last year. But in 2022 she’s on her own, with no steady income.

After a year of unemployment Moshi Bernard, 36, has a job as a librarian earning $20,000 less than she made in the finance department of a local hotel before the pandemic. She’s glad to have a job, but the big pay cut is hard to swallow. “Is it a step back? Yes,” she said. “Is it a lower pay? Yes. But is it steady and consistent? Yes.”

Two years into the pandemic and multiple variants that have resulted in one million deaths across the U.S., Black Americans are still suffering from COVID-19’s public health and economic consequences. The recovery of most people of color has been sporadic and uneven. From permanently closed businesses to limited access to health care, housing and food insecurity, increases in suicide and violent crime and educational setbacks, experts say it will take years before Black Americans are able to fully recover from the pandemic.

Black people are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized due to coronavirus. Factors include pre-existing health conditions such as Diabetes. They are more likely to have essential jobs that cannot be done remotely. Nearly 25 percent of employed Black and Hispanic people work in the service industry, the CDC says, which requires more interaction with the public and increased risk of COVID-19. Where African Americans live also makes a difference.  They’re more likely to live in multi-generational homes and densely populated cities.  Some have limited access to care. They either don’t have health insurance or don’t get paid when missing work to seek care.

“The larger Black community went into the pandemic, suffering disproportionately economically, medically, academically, and otherwise,” says U. S. Representative Kweisi Mfume of Maryland. “And so, the way we come out, when we do finally get out, is probably going to be best described by those same indicators that were in play when we went in.”

“It’s always been a pandemic for poor Black people,” says the Rev. Lionel Edmonds, senior pastor at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Washington, “but now it’s expanding and intensified for the working poor.”

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