Shared from the 6/16/2020 Albany Times Union eEdition


Health disparities upstate need action

Black Americans in upstate New York are suffering more from COVID-19 than those in New York City. The health disparities in the pandemic reflect past and ongoing disparities in the health of the state’s population. While New York City is the state’s epicenter of the pandemic and much attention has been paid to the far higher rates among African-Americans in the city, the upstate situation is worse, according to state Department of Health statistics.

Outside of New York City, African-Americans account for 17 percent of COVID-19 fatalities, but they comprise only 9 percent of the population. In New York City, blacks represent 28 percent of the fatalities while comprising 22 percent of that population. There are, in short, far more deaths per population size among the upstate black/African American population than among those in New York City.

The reasons are many and each one may point to a target for intervention and for improvement. While racism can be found everywhere, populations of color outside of New York City live in quite different circumstances from those in the city. Blacks and Hispanics comprise but 21 percent of the non-NYC population compared to 51 percent in New York City. As such, upstate communities of color have less political leverage in their communities to create targeted health programs. They also have less chance of receiving health care from a person like themselves and may experience more economic hardship as well as many other disadvantages. Understanding the sources of health disparities in upstate populations of color is critical to blunting deaths from COVID-19 and other manifestations of health disparities.



Director, Center for the

Elimination of Minority

Health Disparities,

University at Albany

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