Why are certain racial and ethnic minority groups impacted more by COVID-19?

Recent data suggests that COVID-19 has a greater impact on certain racial and ethnic minority groups. Health differences are often due to social and economic conditions. In public health emergencies, these conditions can isolate people from the resources they need to prepare for and respond to outbreaks. 

Some conditions contribute to a higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19 for certain racial and ethnic minority groups. These conditions include:

  • Some racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to live in densely populated areas and have multi-generational households, making it difficult to practice prevention and social distancing.
  • Racially segregated and medically underserved neighborhoods are linked to more underlying health conditions. These groups have higher rates of chronic conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease — that increase the severity of COVID-19.
  • Some racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to have health insurance and have a distrust of the medical system, making them less likely to seek care when they are sick.
  • Some racial and ethnic minority groups are critical workers or work jobs where they do not receive paid sick leave, making it more likely they will continue to work even when they are sick.
  • Some racial and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented in jails, prisons, and detention centers, which have specific risks due to close living quarters, shared food services, etc.
  • Some racial and ethnic minority groups don’t speak English or speak English as a second language, sometimes creating a barrier when it comes to access to care.