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Study Finds Low-Income Communities Hit Hard By COVID-19 Are Also Suffering Financially

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Research has shown that lower income communities of color have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, but the neighborhoods bearing the brunt of this pandemic are also hard-hit financially.

In Elmhurst, Queens, CBS2's Ali Bauman met Lucy Garcia, who has lost two friends to COVID-19.

"It's been very hard because I've known them for so many years," Garcia said.

Just down the block, Emily Tavarez says she feels lucky her loved ones have kept their health, but most of them lost their jobs.

"A lot of them work in retail and the majority of the retail places have closed," she said.

Elmhurst is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the pandemic.

NYC coronavirus deaths by zip code
New York City's health department has released a breakdown of coronavirus deaths by zip code. (Credit: New York City Department of Health)

New data from the health department breaks it down by zip code. Darker purple represents areas with the highest death rate, disproportionately in black and Latino communities, compared to where the lowest death rate is in Lower Manhattan.


"If it wasn't bad enough that the health impacts from this crisis were falling on these neighborhoods -- poor neighborhoods, communities of color -- but it's also the economic impact," said Jonathan Bowles, a researcher with the Center for an Urban Future.

He's been studying industries in New York with the most layoffs due to the pandemic -- restaurants, retail, personal care services and hotels.

"Lack of income because of the economic crisis is disproportionately affecting the very same neighborhoods that are seeing the brunt of the health crisis," Bowles said. "It really is a double whammy."

The study found while more than half the jobs in those hard-hit industries are physically located in Manhattan, more than 80% of their workers live in the other four boroughs.

"They rent for four, five people, six people living in one small space. That's how everybody gets the virus and it's very, very sad," Garcia said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will expand testing in churches and community centers in minority neighborhoods as well as in public housing.

"Focus on low-income communities, do the testing and do the outreach," Cuomo said.

The governor says he's asking all local governments in the state to do the same.

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