In rural America, Covid is hitting blacks and Hispanics hardest

Blacks also continued to mask at higher rates, according to national polls, a split that rural residents said was still clearly visible. “It’s more black people wearing their masks,” said Roy Lee McKenzie, 78, of South Carolina, who is still recovering from a case of Covid 2020.

In rural areas, hospital closures, job losses, low vaccination rates and health problems resulting from limited medical access have all exacerbated the effects of the pandemic. Inoculation rates were much lower in rural counties that voted more for Donald Trump, research shows, but also in rural areas where healthcare workers are in short supply and with more black residents.

Janice Probst, who studies rural health at the University of South Carolina, said the state’s strategy of getting vaccines first to hospitals and then to large drugstore chains has the effect of leaving behind more disadvantaged rural residents whose cities had neither.

In some places, however, even progress in vaccinating non-white communities has not been sufficient.

In Minnesota, black, Hispanic and Asian adults under 65 were more heavily vaccinated than white residents during the first Omicron wave, according to research led by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. . But middle-aged non-white people were killed more often by Covid anyway. Blacks suffered twice the death rate of whites.

“A lot of the way the pandemic is framed now by political leaders is that people can choose their level of risk,” Dr Wrigley-Field said. But, she said, “the risk to social groups does not fall at the same rate as their vaccination. It’s decoupled from that because of all the other things in our society that put some people at greater risk than others.

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