On Wednesday, the United States hit a bleak milestone as the death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 100,000, CBS News reported. More people have died from coronavirus in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. Of the 5.6 million cases of coronavirus in the world, 1.7 million of them have occurred in the U.S., which makes the U.S. the country with the most number of cases as well as the most deaths.
The novel coronavirus has spread to every state in the country and has exposed some of the persistent inequities in American life.
According to CBS News, Black and Latino Americans are more likely to contract coronavirus and more likely to die from COVID-19, the disease that results from the novel coronavirus. Per John Hopkins Medicine, systemic inequalities are behind these disproportionate numbers. People of color are more likely to live in crowded environments where social distancing is difficult. They’re more likely to be essential workers without access to paid time off. People of color are also more likely to have chronic illnesses and less likely to have access to adequate healthcare.
The Navajo Nation, which covers portions of land in Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, was also hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, CBS News reported. The Navajo Nation has the highest rate of coronavirus infections per capita in the country. One of the main reasons for the disproportionate infection rates is that 30 percent of homes in the Navajo Nation don’t have running water. Since the primary way to prevent infection is frequent handwashing, many people in the Navajo Nation are unable to protect themselves and their communities.
The coronavirus pandemic has also been particularly merciless in nursing homes, according to CBS News. Last week alone, 30 percent of the coronavirus deaths in the U.S. were linked to nursing homes. The elderly are more likely to get coronavirus than the general population, and when they get it, the virus is more likely to be deadly, NBC News reported.
So, nursing homes are full of the population at the highest risk for the virus and they present particular challenges to containing the spread of the virus, per NBC News. Staff and patients haven’t had adequate access to personal protective equipment. Residents live in close quarters and share all the same facilities. Many residents require very hands-on care, which means staff are likely to spread the virus throughout the building. According to CBS News, understaffing also contributes to issues with containing outbreaks in nursing homes.
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) May 23, 2020
Though the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the most vulnerable populations the hardest, the disease has taken the lives of all sorts of people, CBS News reported. Nurses, grocery store workers, former White House staffers, singers, actors, police officers, college students, children, and many more have all lost their lives to the virus.
The good news, according to CBS News, is that the number of deaths attributed to coronavirus is going down in many places. During the height of the pandemic in New York — the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. — more than 800 people were dying every day. On Tuesday, the death toll in the state was down to 73. Progress is being made, even as this grim milestone passes.