As shocking as the news is, the details are actually far worse. The Washington Post reports that the government's released data shows that the life expectancy of black Americans has decreased by 2.7 years, or more than three times the decline in white Americans. Latino Americans saw a 1.9 year decline.
This is terrible, but it reflects what we already knew about the pandemic: Black and Latino Americans are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites. Native American death rates are even higher.
Much of this can be directly attributed to disproportionate access to health care, and much of it can be attributed to systemic racism and the resulting stolen wealth. These effects continue as white Americans are more likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, although other communities are more affected. The deliberate or unintentional disconnection of services in the country's pandemic response was evident from the first few months. New Orleans health officials were upset when data showed their drive-through regime left pandemic hotspots in lower-income black neighborhoods because these Americans were less likely to have cars. The officers then aimed at these neighborhoods with mobile test vehicles.
By the middle of last year, all of this had already resulted in the COVID-19 death rate for blacks, Latinos and Native Americans being many times higher than for their white counterparts. The virus may not discriminate, but our country's approach to health services certainly is.
The data for the second half of 2020 is expected to be even worse. Pandemic deaths skyrocketed in the winter months, as widely expected, and the already poor patience for necessary security measures diminished to the rough equivalent of nothing in many areas. What happens over the next six months will depend on how quickly the vaccines developed can be distributed, whether vaccination rates in every American city and neighborhood are sufficient to prevent the virus from spreading further, and whether this can all happen again Virus mutations are ruining a lot of that effort with variants that elude the vaccines we have. It is not certain that the nation can beat the pandemic and go back to normal in the next year. It will take work.