After the first wave of COVID-19 case numbers and deaths in Spring 2020, it was Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago who broke the story of how the virus was distinctly ravaging Black and brown communities with higher hospitalizations and deaths. In Chicago, alone, Black residents were dying from COVID-19 at six times the rate of other Chicagoans. While the virus has been unsparing across the board, there is a tragic trifecta—people who are older, or of color, with serious underlying conditions, are dying in greater numbers, with a disproportionate percentage of deaths afflicting underrepresented groups.
COVID-19 is not unique in exposing the inequitable consequences of worse risks and insufficient health care among people of color. From rates of maternal death to outcomes in metastatic breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, people of color and women fare badly. But the COVID-19 tragedy has raised consciousness politically of health inequities and is now an articulated priority in the new president’s agenda.