Brooklyn Boro

People of color, immigrants hit harder than the affluent, officials say, but data is missing

'They’re being told, in essence, you’re dispensable’

April 7, 2020 Mary Frost
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams during Tuesday’s press conference. Photo captured via Zoom

The city’s public advocate and Brooklyn’s borough president charged on Tuesday that there are two systems for dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak in this city — one for the affluent and one for poor black, brown and immigrant communities.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and BP Eric Adams said that while the affluent can work from home and afford to have supplies delivered, others are being told that they must make deliveries, ride on cramped subways and work in hospitals and grocery stores without personal protective equipment.

“They’re being told, in essence, ‘you’re dispensable,’” Williams told reporters.

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The officials called for the city to release data on which ethnic groups are getting tested and which are getting sick, information currently not available. This data is necessary to direct resources such as PPE to where it is needed the most, and “adjust in rapid fashion to a rapidly-developing enemy,” Adams said.

Their joint press conference followed a statement from New York City Comptroller Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday saying that the pandemic is hitting low-income people of color harder than affluent New Yorkers, widening pre-existing health disparities. According to Stringer, 75 percent of all frontline workers are people of color.

Stringer wants Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York City Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot to release demographic data that tracks the race, ethnicity, and occupation of COVID-19 patients.

“By all accounts, this crisis is deepening systemic social and economic inequalities in New York City and the consequence of these disparities is reinforcing a cycle of transmission, mortality, lost income and poor health care that disproportionately affects lower-income people of color,” Stringer wrote to the mayor and the health commissioner.

Williams said that the city has been sending out a “muddled message” about social distancing, including mayor de Blasio, who was photographed walking in the park without a mask on. He called for a one week total lockdown, with a zoned delivery system.


“Construction, parks — lock it down for a week or two. No rush hour. No laundromats or dry cleaners for a full week. Just pharmacies and groceries,” Williams said.

Adams said disadvantaged communities are not getting the same message that affluent neighborhoods are getting. He recalled speaking a few weeks ago about the need for social distancing to some youngsters who were playing basketball.

“Social distancing? What’s that?” they asked him.

A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office said during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Tuesday press conference that hospitals don’t report coronavirus death rates to the state by race.

“We call the coroner’s office,” she told reporters. “We want that data, too. We’ll have that later this week.”


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2 Comments

  1. Jane Carig

    so when you get the Data and then what ? what is the argument? It is given that Poverty and low income household or individual suffered the most in ANY disaster whether its natural or Economic disaster. This Worldwide occurrence. On this Article the writer validated the FACTS that this is the OUTCOME of economic hardship. SO WHAT’S THE ARGUMENT. ? No one told the VIRUS to infect the whole world what more to infect impoverish people of color. This issue is Socioeconomic status not about RACE. People like myself are not privileged as those people that can still work. I am out of work and I don’t even know if I can collect unemployment . Who are you to SAY people at home are not SUFFERING. The world does not revolved only on Particular segment of People. There People in different countries who are suffering right now with the same PLAGUE, COVID19 but because its only ONE RACE in that country you ruled out the RACE issue. People in the third world country are SUFFERING BECAUSE most of the people LEAVING IN that country are in POVERTY. So the outcome of disparity is due to economic hardship so what’s your argument here? Are you asking why people are in Poverty, perhaps you should ask the People why they are in Poverty instead of appointing someone to be responsible of their misfortune. So the Essential workers out there such as a Delivery boy should START working as doctor? Essen tail workers out there are not only a laborer working in a Subway, a food delivery, Walmart personnel there higher paying JOB out there working and risking their life too like Doctors and Nurses, MTA. So what do you want out of these article. What are you trying to justify? You want more money for those people in impacted by this Virus ?. People whose out of job right now are NOT ONLY RICH PEOPLE AND NOT ONLY WHITE PEOPLE. I don’t sit at home and have someone deliver my food or sitting eating caviar in my Summer house. I am home calling unemployment all day 565x hoping i get lucky to speak to someone, PLEASE STOP MAKING THIS AS ALWAYS ABOUT RACE. There short of PPE and other Medical supplies all over the WORLD . There are supermarkets that CARE about the workers they are given mask, gloves, sanitize and installed flex glass to the counter register. NOT everyone is working for Amazon for BEZOS, Maybe you should look at Statistic of Black American that died on Covid19 and their over all health. Most Blacks and Latino have high percentage of Obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes which Covid19 death toll are among these percentage of underlying illness worldwide. What is it you trying to justify..?