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Coronavirus Update: Racial, Ethnic Disparities Of Those Killed By COVID-19 Prompt Cuomo, De Blasio To Launch Action Plans

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Dramatic numbers showing a huge racial and ethnic disparity in those felled by the coronavirus has prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to launch action plans.

But some say: What took them so long?

The people who run the trains and buses and the people who ride them to get to jobs considered essential are all-too-often members of the minority community: 75% by some estimates, reported CBS2's Marcia Kramer.

And just as they are disproportionately on the front lines, they are disproportionately dying. Sixty two percent of those who have died in New York City are black and Hispanic, based on preliminary data. This despite the fact that they make up just 51% of the city's population.

The mayor released preliminary information on how the virus is impacting people of different racial backgrounds:

  • Hispanics make up 34% of the fatalities (They are 29% of NYC's population)
  • Blacks make up 28% of the fatalities (22% of the population)
  • Whites make up 27% of the fatalities (32% of the population)
  • Asians make up 7% of the fatalities (17% of the population)

"That's a blatant inequality and we don't accept it," de Blasio said.

Neither does Cuomo, who showed their pictures of some of those who passed away.

"Why is it that the poorest people always pay the highest price? Let's figure it out. Let's do the work. Let's do the research and learn from this moment. Let's learn from these moments and let's do it now," Cuomo said. "We are going to do more testing in minority communities, but not just testing for the virus. Let's actually get research and data that can inform us as to why we are having more people in minority communities, more people in certain neighborhoods, why do they have higher rates of infection."

In addition to more testing in minority communities, Cuomo asked a state university official to study why members of the minority community - many of whom have underlying medical conditions - are hit so hard by the pandemic.

"Let's learn the lessons now," Cuomo said.

WEB EXTRA: See Bill de Blasio's April 8, 2020 Presentation (.pdf)

De Blasio announced a four point plan to confront the racial disparities that includes grassroots outreach and a multimillion dollar ad campaign in 14 languages.

"Get much deeper into community, including immigrant communities with real valuable information about how to navigate this extraordinary challenge," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said the city is responding to those troubling statistics by focusing on supporting public hospitals, launching a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in 14 languages and focusing on communities of color, grassroots outreach to leaders and clinics in those communities and expanding telemedicine. He also said 311 resources needed to expand.

"One thing I think is clear, and I've talked this through with our health care leaders, is that people who have had less health care available to them are more vulnerable," de Blasio said. "If throughout your life you haven't gotten the care you deserved, or if you've had preexisting conditions that weren't addressed the way they could've if you'd had more resources. Because, again, health care still in this country is based on how much money you have."

"I think it's important for us to note that where we are seeing these inequities are places and populations that have historically had higher rates of underlying chronic illnesses, and certainly those chronic underlying illnesses put these individuals at greater risk for poorer health outcomes," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said.

"It made me angry to see that the disparities that have plagued this city, this nation that are all about fundamental inequality are once again causing such pain and causing innocent people to lose their lives. It's just abundantly clear. It's sick. It's troubling. It's wrong. And we're going to fight back with everything we got," de Blasio said.


Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the steps are long overdue, especially the testing.

"We did not respond to the outer boroughs like Queens, Bronx, Rockaway and Brooklyn the way we should where you have black and brown people," Adams said.

Adams is demanding all frontline workers - the bus drivers and grocery clerks - receive the best possible protective gear.

"Give everybody N95 masks," Adams said.

Cuomo was asked if he should order a further lockdown to protect the workers, but he said it wasn't possible because people still need food, medicine and transportation.

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