Mayor Says Virus Has Hit Black, Hispanic New Yorkers Hard

Apr 8, 2020
2:45 PM

A woman leaves Elmhurst Hospital Center after being tested for COVID-19 or coronavirus during the current viral pandemic, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — New data shows New York City’s death toll from COVID-19 has been disproportionately high in black and Hispanic communities. And deaths continue to rise statewide at a record pace.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:


New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus has been disproportionately high in black and Hispanic communities, and the city is starting an outreach campaign for those residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“We’re seeing folks who have struggled before really being hit particularly hard,” de Blasio said at a City Hall briefing.

Preliminary data indicates that black people account for 28% of the city’s COVID-19 death toll, even though they are just 22% of the city’s population. Hispanics account for 34% of the city’s virus death toll and 29% of its population.

De Blasio said of the racial disparities: “It’s sick. It’s troubling. It’s wrong. And we are going to fight back with everything we’ve got.”

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, noted that the communities that have been hit the hardest by the virus “have had higher rates of underlying chronic illness” than other New Yorkers.

State health officials reported Tuesday that more than 4,000 people have been killed by the virus in New York City. The city’s new round of data is based on a smaller number of cases, about 1,600, where the race and ethnicity of the victim is known.

De Blasio said the city would embark on a multimillion-dollar public service campaign to reach non-English speaking communities with information about the virus.

Cuomo, speaking separately later in the day, said he also was troubled by the disparities and will order more testing in minority communities.

“Why is it the poorest people always pay the highest price?” Cuomo asked. “But let’s figure it out. Let’s do the work. Let’s do the research. Let’s learn from this moment.”

When the city fatality figures are adjusted to reflect the age makeup of ethnic groups within the city’s population, the disparities are more stark. The age-adjusted death rate for both blacks and Hispanics was more than double the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Asians, meanwhile, experienced a much lower rate of fatalities: 8.4 per 100,000 residents, compared with 10.2 for non-Hispanic whites, 19.8 for non-Hispanic blacks and 22.8 for Hispanics.

Although the figures released Wednesday show racial disparities in who has died of the virus, the disparities are not as great as those that have been reported elsewhere in the country.

Figures released by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services show 40% of those who have died from COVID-19 are black in a state where African Americans are just 14% of the population.




New York coronavirus deaths rose by 779, a record number for a second consecutive day, and Cuomo warned the toll will climb even as hospitalizations from the outbreak finally moderate.

New York state recorded 6,268 deaths by Tuesday.

The grim news was accompanied by more evidence that New York is arresting the outbreak’s month-long rise. The hospitalization rate is decreasing, Cuomo said, meaning the overburdened system could stabilize over the coming weeks if trends continue.

The governor said New York is at last “flattening the curve” of the outbreak. Still, the number of deaths will continue to rise as patients hospitalized for a longer period of time die.

“I understand the science of it. I Understand the facts and the logic of it. But it is still incredibly difficult to deal with,” Cuomo said at a state Capitol news briefing. “Every number is a face, and that’s been painfully obvious to me every day.”



De Blasio acknowledged that the city’s official coronavirus statistics have missed hundreds of people who died at home without ever being tested for the virus, and said the city would start including such victims in its COVID-19 tally.

“The blunt truth is coronavirus is driving these very tragic deaths,” de Blasio said on CNN’s “New Day.” He added, “We’re not talking about, you know, 10 people, 20 people. We’re talking about something like 100, 200 people per day.”

The city’s Fire Department has recorded as many as 200 deaths at home daily in recent weeks, far more than the average 25 deaths at home before the pandemic.

De Blasio said the city would start including in its official tally of deaths people who died at home without a test.