Institute and Partners Request Racial Data on COVID-19 Impact
Information Essential for Providing Support to Hardest Hit Communities of Color in NJ
NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its United Black Agenda partners wrote Governor Murphy Tuesday requesting that the State publicly release the following demographic information regarding the current public health crisis:
- Who has been tested, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender;
- Who has tested positive, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender; · The fatality rate, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender;
- Who is or has been hospitalized, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender; and
- The incidence of testing, infection, hospitalization, and fatalities among the youth and adult incarcerated populations, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, and gender.
Citing statistics demonstrating the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color across the country, the letter said, “Public health crises always reveal the cracks in our safety net foundation. And as we are experiencing through this pandemic, these cracks cause earthquakes in our Black and Latina/Latino communities, as well as in other communities of color.”
The letter continued, “Black people are dying across this country from COVID-19 at strikingly disproportionate rates. That outcome is caused by decades of racism reflected in disinvestment in Black communities, grinding poverty, relentless hypersegregation, redlining and substandard public housing, healthcare, and educational opportunities, police brutality, food deserts, pollution, and landfills. As a result of these factors, Black people suffer from higher rates of the underlying conditions on which COVID-19 preys: asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more...
“A disproportionate number of low-wage Black and Latina/Latino New Jerseyans are likely to have "essential" jobs that can’t be done remotely and which put them in close contact with others – including in nursing homes, at cash registers, in kitchens, or as part of custodial teams. Black people are also more likely to use public transportation to travel to jobs, making social distancing difficult.”
The letter also pointed out the racial disparities in youth incarceration, which mean that an outbreak in youth prisons would disproportionately impact youth of color.
The letter concluded, “Our communities of color are already lacking adequate investment. These conditions will worsen as this pandemic unfolds … In order for the necessary investment to be made in treating, repairing, and empowering these communities, it is critical that we have the data to inform the required scope and depth of that investment.”
The Murphy administration has begun releasing some initial racial impact data. The early findings – while not surprising – are troubling. For 729 of the 1,232 deaths where the information is available, 24% are Black – while Black people are only 15% of the state’s population.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.