Special Report

How COVID-19 Has Disproportionately Affected Minority Communities In Every State

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1. Alabama
> Community w/ highest death-to-pop. ratio: Black or African American (26.4% of pop.)
> Black share of COVID-19 infections: 49.1%
> Black share of COVID-19 deaths: 46.7%
> County with most COVID-19 deaths: Lowndes County (215 per 100,000 county residents)
> Lowndes County population: White (24.5%); Black (74.1%); AIAN (0.1%); Asian (0.0%); NHPI (0.0%); Hispanic (0.7%)

There are six counties in Alabama that have reported more than 100 COVID-19 related deaths for every 100,000 people, and each of the six has a higher concentration of Black residents than the state as a whole. In Lowndes County in the Montgomery metropolitan area, which reported a state-leading 215 coronavirus deaths for every 100,000 people, nearly 75% of the population is Black, almost triple the 26.4% share of state residents who are Black.

Across the country, Black workers are more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus than white workers. Though Black Americans make up 12.3% of the population, about 17% of front line workers are Black. Such jobs, including those in health care and public transit, put workers at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

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2. Alaska
> Community w/ highest death-to-pop. ratio: Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (1.2% of pop.)
> NHPI share of COVID-19 infections: 4.1%
> NHPI share of COVID-19 deaths: 5.9%
> County with most COVID-19 deaths: Petersburg Borough (31 per 100,000 county residents)
> Petersburg Borough population: White (63.0%); Black (0.7%); AIAN (6.8%); Asian (9.2%); NHPI (0.5%); Hispanic (10.4%)

A geographically isolated state, Alaska has been largely spared from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 13, there have been only 209 cases of the coronavirus and 2.3 related deaths for every 100,000 people in the state — the fourth and second lowest rates among states, respectively. Alaska also has one of the proportionally smallest Black populations of any state. Just 3.1% of the state population identifies as Black — versus 12.3% share of the population nationwide. About 3.7% of all COVID-19 cases in Alaska have been in Black residents, and the state has not reported any deaths among its Black residents.

While comprising just 1.2% of the state population but 5.9% of deaths, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in Alaska have been the most disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

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3. Arizona
> Community w/ highest death-to-pop. ratio: American Indian and Alaska Native (3.9% of pop.)
> AIAN share of COVID-19 infections: 13.0%
> AIAN share of COVID-19 deaths: 18.3%
> County with most COVID-19 deaths: Apache County (145 per 100,000 county residents)
> Apache County population: White (18.3%); Black (0.7%); AIAN (73.1%); Asian (0.4%); NHPI (0.0%); Hispanic (6.2%)

COVID-19 infections have surged in Arizona in recent weeks, and the parts of the state that are populated by Native Americans have borne the brunt. In the two counties with the highest death rates in the state — Apache County and Navajo County — 73.1% and 43.3% identify as Native American, respectively. Each of these counties has a high number of cases per capita, more than triple the national caseload of 1,029 for every 100,000 people as of July 13. The number of COVID-19 fatalities in each of these counties is also more than triple the comparable national figure of 39 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people. Arizona had 1,727 confirmed cases and 31 deaths per 100,000 state residents as of July 13, the third and 14th highest among states.

In mid-June, the Navajo Nation reinstated lockdowns to slow the coronavirus’s spread through its population, even as Arizona had relaxed many of its COVID-19 restrictions.

Source: Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

4. Arkansas
> Community w/ highest death-to-pop. ratio: Black or African American (15.3% of pop.)
> Black share of COVID-19 infections: 27.7%
> Black share of COVID-19 deaths: 28.0%
> County with most COVID-19 deaths: Lincoln County (80 per 100,000 county residents)
> Lincoln County population: White (64.3%); Black (31.2%); AIAN (0.3%); Asian (0.0%); NHPI (0.0%); Hispanic (3.8%)

Arkansas is seeing a spike in COVID-19, reporting on July 11 more than 1,000 new cases in one day, a new milestone. Pulaski County, home to the state capital of Little Rock, has suffered the most total deaths from COVID-19 of the state’s 75 counties, with 65 through July 13. Blacks make up 15.3% of the state’s total population but account for 27.7% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 28% of related deaths.

Lincoln County, in the southeastern part of the state, near Pine Bluff, has the highest incidence of COVID-19 deaths per capita, with 80.1 per 100,000 people. The county, where a state prison and a state prison farm are located, has a population that is 31.1% black. The state prison farm (Cummins Unit) reported 11 inmate deaths due to COVID-19 as of July 13, which account for all of the coronavirus deaths in the county.

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5. California
> Community w/ highest death-to-pop. ratio: Black or African American (5.5% of pop.)
> Black share of COVID-19 infections: 5.2%
> Black share of COVID-19 deaths: 9.1%
> County with most COVID-19 deaths: Imperial County (75 per 100,000 county residents)
> Imperial County population: White (11.0%); Black (2.2%); AIAN (0.6%); Asian (1.3%); NHPI (0.2%); Hispanic (83.8%)

About 39% of California’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. However, the same group accounts for about 55% of coronavirus cases and 42% of the deaths. In each of the five counties in the state to report the most COVID-19 deaths per capita — Imperia, Los Angeles, Tulare, Kings, and Riverside counties — the share of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino far exceeds the statewide share.

These counties have also reported the most COVID-19 cases per capita. Across California, there have been 832 cases of the coronavirus for every 100,000 people. In each of the five counties with the most COVID-19 death per capita, there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people. In Imperial County, located near the Mexico border, where about 84% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, there have been a staggering 3,884 infections for every 100,000 people.