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How COVID-19 is exposing inequality in America

  • Small businesses struggle to stay open and pay workers

    The financial ramifications of the pandemic have hit small businesses harder than large corporations. They tend to have far less political influence and fewer cash reserves that can help them weather the shutdowns, according to Heather Boushey and Somin Park of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

    [Pictured: Shuttered retail space, Beverly Hills, California.]

  • Farmers struggle amid the changing food landscape

    Farmers are facing a double whammy during the pandemic. Not only are everyday shoppers tightening their budgets, but restaurants and institutions have cut back on food orders while they’re shut down. As a result, farmers haven’t been able to charge nearly as much for food, according to Monica Jimenez of Tufts Now. They’ve also needed to destroy millions of pounds of food that has gone unsold, according to David Yaffe-Bellany and Michael Corkery of The New York Times.

    [Pictured: Rotting Russet Burbank potatoes, Warden, Washington State.]

  • Underlying health conditions are more prevalent in adults with disabilities

    Adults with disabilities may face a greater risk of COVID-19 complications due to underlying conditions. They’re three times as likely as Americans without disabilities to have cancer, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, according to the CDC.

  • Social distancing isn’t always possible in multigenerational households

    While experts recommend keeping distant from elderly relatives and other at-risk people during the pandemic, that’s not always an option for the 64 million people in the U.S. who live in a multigenerational household, according to Cara Anthony of Kaiser Health News. Grandparents may be confined in tight quarters with their younger relatives, who may not have any other place to stay.


  • Undocumented residents may avoid health care out of fear of deportation

    Undocumented immigrants have increased risk of the coronavirus due to the types of jobs they tend to have and the low wages they tend to be paid, but the problem compounds when the risk of deportation is added to the mix. Many are increasingly avoiding medical care and other public services out of a fear of deportation, according to Usha Lee McFarling of STAT.

  • Native Americans have less access to health care

    With historically underfunded health services, Native Americans face greater challenges than other groups during the pandemic. Nearly 1 in 5 Native Americans and Alaska Natives have avoided seeing a doctor because of the cost, while 36% of people in those groups have waited to get medical care for other reasons as well, according to Samantha Artiga, Rachel Garfield, and Kendal Orgera of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • Restaurant, hospitality, retail, and other service workers have been hit hard

    While many businesses have faced challenges during the pandemic, some—like restaurants, hospitality companies, retail stores, and other service industries—have been hit particularly hard. The low-wage workers in these industries have proved far more vulnerable to layoffs than those in more lucrative positions in other industries, according to Anna North of Vox.

  • People of color are more likely to face financial concerns

    Prior to the pandemic, people of color had already reported more financial concerns, such as whether they could pay their rent and make minimum credit card payments, than white people. Those challenges have only worsened during the pandemic, with people of color more likely to work in sectors hit hard by layoffs, according to Samantha Artiga, Rachel Garfield, and Kendal Orgera of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • Public health clinics are underfunded

    The ongoing underfunding of public health care clinics, which had started prior to the pandemic, is exacerbating risks associated with the coronavirus for low-income people, notes Simon F. Haeder of MarketWatch. The most vulnerable people in the country may be left without a go-to place for medical care, according to Anna North of Vox.


  • Women more likely to work frontline jobs

    Women may face greater exposure to the coronavirus than men simply due to their jobs. Women make up 64.4% of the workforce in all frontline industries like grocery stores, public transportation, building cleaning services, and health care, Hye Jin Rho, Hayley Brown, and Shawn Fremstad of the Center for Economic and Policy Research report.

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