May 8, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus' double whammy on vulnerable populations

Adapted from KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Minorities and low-income people are more likely to become seriously ill if infected with the coronavirus, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

Why it matters: These populations are also less likely to be able to social distance, or have been hit hardest economically by doing so. The coronavirus may be a national problem, but its impact is most devastating on the people who were already worse off.

Adapted from KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Even before the virus hit, minorities suffered from worse health outcomes, in part because they're more likely to be low-income — which is also correlated with higher rates of chronic conditions.

  • People with underlying health conditions — like heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), uncontrolled asthma, diabetes or obesity — are more vulnerable to severe illness from the novel coronavirus.
  • Health care and socioeconomic disparities also exacerbate Native American and black Americans' risk.
  • And "even though the shares of Hispanic and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander nonelderly adults at higher risk for serious illness if infected are similar to that of White adults, these groups face disparities in other health, social, and economic factors that may contribute to barriers to health care associated with coronavirus," KFF adds.

Between the lines: People with low-income jobs deemed essential — like grocery store workers, home health aides or delivery drivers — are also at higher risk of contracting the virus.

  • Those in other low-income jobs, like in retail or restaurants, are more likely to be out of work right now or working fewer hours.
  • As the fight between businesses and workers heats up in states reopening sooner than public health experts advise, low-income workers have less of an option to quit if they feel unsafe.

The bottom line: No matter how you look at it, the coronavirus is hitting hardest those who can least afford it.

Go deeper: Coronavirus hits people of color harder, and its economic impact is unequal, too

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Go deeper (2 min. read)ArrowUpdated 14 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus death toll crosses 100,000

Data: Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a terrible milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: The death toll from COVID-19 now stands at more than 34 times the number of people who died on 9/11.

CDC: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," but more data is needed

CDC director Robert Redfield briefs reporters on April 8. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

What they're saying: The agency explicitly warned against using antibody tests to determine whether someone should return to work or to group people within schools or prisons.