New Poll Shows Impact Of Coronavirus On African Americans

May 24, 2020

A new poll shows African Americans are more trusting of their state elected officials than President Trump. But in the south, blacks are less trusting of governors than in other parts of the country.
Credit African American Research Collaborative

national poll, in collaboration with the NAACP and the Yale School of Medicine, shows African Americans are a lot more trusting of local elected officials than President Donald Trump, during the coronavirus pandemic. But blacks aren’t as favorable of governors in the South.

Ray Block is a professor of political science and African American studies at Penn State University. He says blacks likely gave governors lower marks in the South during this crisis, because it was Southern governors who refused to expand the Affordable Care Act, and because of other perceived racial biases.

“In the moment of this pandemic, it was also many of those same Southern governors, once the data was made available by race, [who] determined that the government should be reopened.”

A disproportionately high number of black Americans have been affected with the coronavirus and died of COVID-19. Eighty percent of blacks say they would prefer to hold off on ending the shutdown, to ensure their safety.

A majority of African Americans feel they are less likely to be tested for the coronavirus or hospitalized for the illness than whites.
Credit African American Research Collaborative

A large number of African Americans also say they fear medical care bias during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 60% say they are less likely than whites to be offered testing for the coronavirus or COVID-19 or admitted to the hospital for it.

Marcella Nunez-Smith is the director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine. She says the survey shows there can be structural biases in terms of accessing testing and experimental therapies. 

"Clinician awareness of bias is not a new one," said Nunez-Smith. "But in recent years there has been a great push to make this a part of medical education training, and the results are very promising."

One of the reasons why health experts and economists say African Americans have been especially susceptible to the coronavirus is because a large percentage of blacks live and work in heavily populated areas and cannot work from home. The survey shows 41% of African Americans are working from home during the pandemic and 39% want to stay at home and work, but can't. Thirty-six percent lost their jobs or had a cut in hours.

Twenty-three percent of African Americans say they have a friend or family member who has gotten sick with the coronavirus, and 15% say a friend or family member has died of COVID-19. The African American Research Collaborative interviewed 604 African Americans from across the country for this survey, between May 1 and May 7, 2020.