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The pandemic unequal impact: not just a matter of race

The military's elite flight demonstration squadrons, the Navy's Blue Angels, top, and the Air Force's Thunderbirds, perform "a collaborative salute" to honor those battling the COVID-19 pandemic during the current coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Researchers may one day manage to explain why New York has suffered so much more intensely from coronavirus than other big cities across the country. It’s not a simplistic matter of race: the nation’s next largest city, Los Angeles, has a higher proportion of people of color — 71% as opposed to 56% — but NYC has 16 times the death rate as LA.

White New Yorkers have more chance of COVID-19 death than African-Americans living anywhere else. Moreover, statistics also indicate men are much more likely to die of coronavirus than women, by a ratio of almost two-to one — and even more than two-to-one in European countries like Italy. Mysteries remain about this pandemic and why it hits some groups, and some localities, disproportionately.

But we must resist the temptation to explain some of these grim numbers by automatically blaming discrimination and racism.

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