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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, concerns have been repeatedly raised over the disproportionate ways Black Americans have suffered under the constant unaddressed health inequities in our communities.

This month, a new Brookings Institute report titled, “The Hamilton Project, Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis,” states that the coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death among Black Americans, following heart disease and cancer.

The report was co-authored by Trevon Logan, professor of economics at the Ohio State University, and Bradley L. Hardy of the American University in Washington D.C.

Research from the study shows that the higher mortality COVID-19 rates found in Black American communities are due to proximity to preexisting health conditions. Black Americans are also more likely to be employed in front-facing or service industries and are more than twice as likely to share their living quarters with more people, increasing chances of exposure.

“If I told you on January 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third leading cause of death for Black Americans, our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” Logan told CBS.

“The outsized challenges that Black Americans are facing are a reflection of the generally diminished economic position and health status that they faced prior to this crisis,” the Brookings report reads. “Several pre– COVID-19 economic conditions—including lower levels of income and wealth, higher unemployment, and greater levels of food and housing insecurity—leave Black families with fewer buffers to absorb economic shocks and contribute to Black households’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

Logan and Hardy also argue that economic disparities are linked to their findings and note that without an action plan rooted in policy, the numbers will remain on the rise in Black communities.

“Ultimately, robust, reliable fiscal policy responses to the crisis will help to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on families,” the report states. “If the economic and public health crisis continues at its current pace, many American families will require such assistance, including a disproportionate share of Black families.”

According to The Washington Post, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States is approaching 6 million, while the U.S. death toll is nearing 180,000.

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