Credit: (source: www.cablackmedia.org)

Edward Henderson | California Black Media

If you follow social media or if you’re out and count the number of masks being worn, you might conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic is over. People are posting pictures of their summer vacations and family gatherings. Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks shows entertained thousands of uncovered faces across the nation. 

But neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization have declared that the pandemic has run its course. Statistics and death toll across California tell a distressing story about the indelible mark the pandemic has left on all of us. 

A study by collegiate researchers, including representatives from UCLA, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that during the pandemic, Black Californians and other minorities experienced disproportionate reduction in life expectancy compared to White Californians.  

The JAMA study also found that for Californians living in the highest income census tracts versus the lowest, the gap in life expectancies increased from a difference of about 11.5 years before the pandemic to 14.67 years in 2020 and 15.51 years in 2021.

Between 2019 and 2021, the research shows that the life expectancy for Black Californians decreased by nearly 3.8 years from 74.8 years to 71. The life expectancy of Latinx Californians fell by nearly 5.7 years from 82.5 years to 76.8, and for Asian Californians, there was a three-year decrease from 86.6 years to 83.5. White Californians’ life expectancy only decreased 1.9 years from 80.5 to 78.6 years.  

“This disparity, much like other racial and ethnic inequities, has roots in the social determinants of health as well as structural barriers resulting from systemic racism that have helped perpetuate disparities for generations,” researchers stated in the study. 

The study found that economic factors, including the likelihood of Black and Latinx Californians working frontline jobs coupled with the increased need for them to attend work in person to financially survive, increased their exposure to the COVID-19 virus and possibly contributed to the life expectancy decrease.  

“Families of lower socioeconomic status are more vulnerable to economic instability and were less likely to access income support programs during the pandemic, raising concerns that the stresses brought on by the pandemic might have widened health gaps related to income and race and ethnicity,” the study reported. 

As of July 11, only 68% of Black Californians and 25 % of Black children in the state had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Government supported programs and additional funds allocated in budget for Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented immigrants are some of the few steps taken to combat some of these disparities. 

BlackandVaxxed.org is a California statewide public awareness campaign designed to give the Black community facts and insights necessary to make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Created in partnership with the California Department of Health, the organization provides a compilation of workplace safety initiatives and vaccine related information on its website.   

Information on how and where to receive Covid-19 vaccinations can be found here.

IE Voice Contributor

The author is a periodic contributor to Black Voice News and the IE Voice. The opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Voice Media Ventures. Please submit any questions, comments or concerns to info@blackvoicenews.com.