Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people of Long Beach disproportionately catching coronavirus

Graphs showing the percentage of Long Beach coronavirus cases and cases requiring hospitalization by race on the City of Long Beach’s new data dashboard.

Members of the Black, Asian and Pacific Islander populations of Long Beach have been disproportionately infected by coronavirus, according to the City’s new data dashboard.

The regularly updated data dashboard will break down coronavirus information by age, gender and race of patients, as well as the number of recoveries, currently hospitalized patients and deaths.

“We need to be transparent and release as much data and information to the public as possible,” Mayor Robert Garcia’s email newsletter stated. “Our new dashboard and website give the public real-time information about the COVID-19 crisis.”

While black residents make up only 12% of Long Beach’s population, they currently account for 16% of positive coronavirus cases detected in the city. Black Long Beach residents also account for 20% of hospitalized coronavirus patients, as of Monday, April 20.

Asian residents also accounted for 16% of the city’s positive coronavirus cases, as well as 15% of hospitalized cases, despite only comprising 13% of Long Beach’s total population.

Similarly, while Long Beach’s Pacific Islander population is only 1% of the city’s total, the percentage of Pacific Islander coronavirus patients and hospitalized cases are both at 4%.

In comparison, the percentage of positive coronavirus cases in Latino and white residents was actually less than that of their representation in the city’s total population.

The largest ethnic group in Long Beach, Latinos, who represent 42% of the city’s total population, represent 38% of positive coronavirus cases and 36% of cases requiring hospitalization.

White individuals account for 28% of Long Beach residents, 25% of the city’s coronavirus patients and 20% of hospitalizations due to the virus.

While Latinos are underrepresented in coronavirus cases within Long Beach, both latino and black communities from cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit have been contracting the virus at disproportionately high rates, according to an email sent by 47th Congressional District Congressman Alan Lowenthal on April 13.

“Leading health experts are pointing to the prevalence of underlying health conditions,” Lowenthal’s newsletter read, “such as diabetes and heart disease among black and Hispanic populations, as one explanation of these higher rates. A lack of access to regular healthcare services in minority communities is also being suggested by experts as a factor. Other experts have also pointed to a high percentage of minority and low-income Americans working in some of the highest risk essential jobs such as nurse aides, grocery store clerks, emergency dispatchers and public transportation employees who cannot telecommute.”

The high rate of underlying health conditions and social problems faced by people of color were also listed as factors that may be contributing to disproportionate rates of coronavirus infections in these communities, by the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a press conference he held alongside President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, April 10.

Due to many people of color having roles as essential workers and living with multiple generations of family members, it may be more difficult for them to practice social distancing and self quarantine.

“Only one in five African Americans and one in six Hispanics has a job that lets them work from home,” Adams said. “People of color are more likely to live in densely packed areas, and in multi generational housing situations which create higher risk for spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19. We tell people to wash their hands, but a study showed 30% of the homes on Navajo Nation don’t have running water. So how are they going to do that? In summary, people of color experience both more likely exposure to COVID-19 and increased complications from it. But let me be crystal clear– We do not think people of color are biologically or genetically predisposed to get COVID-19.”


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