The majority of kids dying from Covid-19 are Latinx, Black, or Native American. There are a total of 390,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases among children in the U.S. and 121 have proved fatal, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers analyzed the number of coronavirus cases and deaths among people under the age of 21 reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31. The coronavirus has had a massive impact on communities of color and it’s no different among children. Of those 121 children who died, 78 percent were children of color: 45 percent were Latinx, 29 percent were Black, and 4 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native.
While access to healthcare has played a large role in the disproportionate number of deaths among people of color, the study found that most of the children had underlying health conditions. The report found that 75 percent of the children who died had at least one underlying condition including asthma, obesity, or heart issues. However, it also highlights social disparities such as “crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps, and racial discrimination” as factors. While the majority of deaths occurred after the children were admitted to the hospital, 39 children died at home or in the emergency room. Researchers also found that 70 percent of those who died were between the ages of 10 and 20 while 10 percent were infants under 1.
“Is it because of health insurance? Or because their parents couldn’t get off work?” Dr. Preeti Malani, infectious disease specialist at the University of Michigan (source NPR)
“I do think that it’s important for the public to not panic,” she said. “Thankfully, the majority of children have a mild infection and recover,” Monika Goyal, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told USA Today.
As schools begin to reopen the rate could potentially change so it’s vital to observe safety measures as schools navigate in-person instruction during this pandemic to avoid more kids dying from Covid-19. California recently introduced a waiver that would allow some elementary schools to open if they meet the criteria. With outbreaks in other states including Utah and Wisconsin due to indoor activities in some cases, California recommends moving activities outdoors or eliminating them altogether. It’s more than just the risk of exposure however, that’s affecting communities of color and so until access to healthcare improves it’s not likely the situation will improve. The CDC emphasizes that “health departments, health providers, and community partners can mobilize to remove systemic barriers that contribute to health disparities.”
“What COVID has done is really shone a spotlight on these long-standing health disparities that affect children and people of color in our society,” Goyal said. “I truly hope that this is a call to action, that we as a society come together to really try to mitigate these disparities by addressing those root causes.”