Minority Communities In Iowa Hit Disproportionately By Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread across Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health released for the first time data on how the disease is affecting different racial and ethnic demographics in the state. As has been shown across the country, minority communities are more likely to be impacted by the virus, and that statistic holds true in Iowa.  

According to the Census Bureau, Iowa is 90.7% white, but coronavirus cases in the state are only 73.3% percent white. This leaves the Black and Hispanic communities more heavily hit. The population of Iowa is only 4% Black, but Black Iowans make up 8.7% of coronavirus cases. The Hispanic population is also hit disproportionately hard as the population of the state is only 6.2% Hispanic, but 16.4% of COVID-19 cases in the state come from that community. 

The impact of this is startling when we view the impact of the cases per 100,000 members of a certain demographic. The chart below shows that while only 47 people per 100,000 white Iowans have contracted the disease, 131 and 159 per 100,000 members of the Black and Hispanic communities respectively are affected.   

This disproportionate effect on communities of color is not just seen in Iowa. From Milwaukee to New Orleans, Black and Hispanic Americans are bearing a disproportionate brunt of the disease.  According to the Chicago department of Public Health, Black Chicagoans accounted for 68% of the deaths and 52% of the confirmed cases, but only 30% of the city’s population.

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In Iowa, recent outbreaks at meat packing plants, which employ many Hispanic workers and refugees, are likely driving at least part of those numbers.


by Adam Henderson
Posted 4/14/20

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