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How COVID-19 is exposing inequality in America

  • Native Americans have disproportionately higher levels of underlying conditions

    People with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of coming down with a severe case of COVID-19. Native Americans in particular have disproportionately high levels of conditions like diabetes and heart disease, which puts them at higher risk of having a complicated case of COVID-19, according to Aaron van Dorn, Rebecca E. Cooney, and Miriam L. Sabin of The Lancet.

    [Pictured: Casamero Lake, New Mexico.]

  • Minorities are more likely to live in densely populated cities

    People who live in crowded cities may have a more difficult time practicing social distancing and avoiding coronavirus exposure than those in rural or suburban areas. When it comes to city-dwelling, people of color face a greater likelihood of living in a densely populated location and in residences with multiple generations of people under the same roof, according to Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, via NPR.

    [Pictured: New York City.]

  • Undocumented farm and meat production workers are often uninsured

    Health disparities can be severe among immigrant communities compared with their white counterparts. Undocumented Latinx workers employed in industries like meat production, poultry, and farming often don’t have health insurance, according to Aaron van Dorn, Rebecca E. Cooney, and Miriam L. Sabin of The Lancet.

  • At least 1.2 million Americans won’t get stimulus checks because they're married to noncitizens

    Stimulus checks meant to offer sweeping help to families across the U.S. left some people behind. At least 1.2 million American citizens won’t get the $1,200 stimulus check or the additional $500 per child because they are married to non-Americans, according to the Migration Policy Institute via ABC News. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund puts the figure of people who won’t get checks even higher at 2 million.


  • Incarcerated people face crowding and inadequate health care resources

    The 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. may be living in facilities that are “in no way equipped” to manage the coronavirus, according to Talha Burki of The Lancet. Older adults, who are at higher risk of COVID-19, comprise a larger share of the U.S. prison population than those between the ages of 18–24, according to The Marshall Project. People living in prisons around the world may also be subjected to crowding and inadequate health care resources.

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  • Food production workers face higher risk of exposure to COVID-19

    The industry a person is employed in can affect their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. America’s 3.4 million food production workers, who often lack health insurance and citizenship, may have a more difficult time accessing COVID-19 tests and getting health care treatment, according to Samantha Artiga and Matthew Rae of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • Health care support and service workers face pay disparities

    Health care workers are rightfully being lauded as heroes during the pandemic, but they're not all treated that way when it comes to pay and benefits. There are nearly 7 million people who work low-paid health jobs, including health care support workers, direct care workers, and health care service workers, where the 2019 median wage was $13.48 an hour, according to Molly Kinder of the Brookings Institution. What’s more, almost 50% of home health care workers and nurses don’t have any paid sick leave, according to author and former economic advisor Gene Sperling, via Forbes.

  • Homeless populations are more vulnerable to COVID-19

    Homeless people may be at greater risk of COVID-19 due to crowded living quarters at shelters and a lack of access to testing, according to Amy Maxmen of Nature. Previous research has already found that people who lack housing tend to have worse health outcomes, and the pandemic may be worsening that situation, according to Dr. Lipi Roy of Forbes.

  • Wealthier Americans have more means to flee COVID-19 hot spots

    Crowded cities make it harder to practice social distancing, thus putting urban dwellers at greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Many of the wealthiest city slickers, however, have been able to lower their risk by fleeing to their second homes in suburban and rural towns. Some have even purchased their own ventilators and medical supplies, according to Vicky Ward of CNN.


  • COVID-19 cases have been spreading throughout ICE detention centers

    Immigrants and asylum-seekers who have been detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may be at higher risk of catching the coronavirus than others. One of every 31 people detained by ICE has tested positive for the virus, according to data from mid-May, via the Brookings Institution.

    [Pictured: GEO Aurora ICE Detention Center, Aurora, Colorado.]

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