COVID Is Much Deadlier for People of Color Than the CDC Thought

Compared to white people of the same age, Black and Latino people are nearly three times as likely to die of coronavirus
December 3, 2020, 3:21pm
Nurse practitioner Capri Reese talks to a patient and holds her hand while a doctor administers an IV at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Black, Indigenous, and Latino people of color are several times as likely to die from coronavirus as white Americans of the same age, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that adjusted death rates by age. 

Before the CDC adjusted deaths for age, the agency’s data indicated that Black people were twice as likely as white people to die due to complications from the coronavirus, while Latino and Indigenous people were slightly more likely to die. 


But the new data shows that, compared to white people of the same age, Black and Latino people are nearly three times as likely to die and Indigenous people are more than two and a half times as likely to die. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to the agency last month requesting that it adjust the mortality data by age. “People of color are, on average, significantly younger than non-Hispanic white Americans—an interaction the CDC has largely ignored in its communication about COVID-19 mortality rates,” she wrote. 

Warren said Wednesday that the new information will help the CDC in its outreach to disproportionately impacted communities, and was proof of inequities in healthcare. 

“These alarming estimates will help the [CDC] better inform communities about the risks of COVID-19,” she said. “And they should serve as a wake-up call to the federal [government] that we must do better in the pandemic to fight these racial disparities and the systemic racism that underlies them.”

U.S. tops 100,000 hospitalizations and sets another record for deaths

There are over 100,000 people currently hospitalized in the United States due to COVID, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project and the New York Times—40% higher than the previous peaks of hospitalization over the spring and summer.

There were also 2,733 deaths reported across the country on Wednesday, as death totals continue to climb despite reporting lags. The last week of November saw the largest increase in death totals in five months, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project, but those numbers are “very likely undercounts” due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Just under 200,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday. There have been nearly 14 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and more than 273,000 people have died. 

Los Angeles is back under lockdown

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a stay-at-home order to residents of the second-largest city in the country on Wednesday, prohibiting people from gathering indoors with people outside of their households except, essentially, for reasons of work, school, religious services, or commerce.

Garcetti tightened restrictions as Los Angeles County reported nearly 6,000 new cases on Wednesday and 2,439 hospitalizations, as Garcetti said “more Angelenos are infected with COVID-19 than ever before.”

“Our city is now close to a devastating tipping point, beyond which the number of hospitalized patients would start to overwhelm our hospital system, in turn risking needless suffering and death,” Garcetti wrote. 

Garcetti’s office characterized the order as replicating the orders of Los Angeles County, which were set last month. “It’s time to hunker down,” Garcetti said during a Wednesday pandemic response update. “It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”

On Wednesday California shattered its own hospitalization record for the fourth straight day, according to the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom—currently mired in controversy after attending a birthday party at a fancy restaurant in Napa Valley last month while begging people to stay home—indicated that a statewide lockdown order could be coming down the pike.

“If these trends continue we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic action,” Newsom said Monday