Poorest US Counties Suffered Twice the COVID Deaths of the Richest

A first-of-its-kind examination of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on low-income communities published Monday shows that Covid-19 has been twice as deadly in poor counties as in wealthy ones, a finding seen as a damning indictment of the U.S. government’s pandemic response.

“The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking, and unjust, especially in light of the trillions of dollars that profit-driven entities received,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber II, co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign, which conducted the new analysis alongside a team of economists and other experts.

Released on the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder in Memphis, Tennessee — where he was fighting for the rights and dignity of low-wage sanitation workers — the new report aims to bring to the forefront the relationship between poverty, income, and occupation and Covid-19 mortality.

Coronavirus vulnerability can be predicted by how much a class is used. understudied, according to Barber, who noted that “Covid-19 data collection does not include data on poverty, income, or occupation, alongside race and pandemic outcomes.”

The Poor People’s Pandemic Digital Report and Intersectional Analysis addresses this knowledge gap,” said Barber, “and exposes the unnecessary deaths by mapping community characteristics and connecting them with Covid-19 outcomes.”

Researchers analyzed data from more that 3,000 U.S. states and determined that the poorest had suffered twice the number coronavirus-related death rates as the richest. In the most fatal waves of the coronavirus pandemic — the spike in the winter of 2020-2021 and the Omicron surge — the poorest counties suffered 4.5 times more deaths than the wealthiest.

“This cannot be explained by vaccination status,” Shailly Gupta Barnes, policy director for the Poor People’s Campaign, said in a statement. “Over half of the population in [the poorest] counties have received their second vaccine shot, but uninsured rates are twice as high.”

The analysis features are interactive map that ranks counties based on the intersection between poverty rates — specifically, the percentage of people living below 200% of the official poverty line — and coronavirus death rates.

Galax, Virginia is the highest-ranking county on the list. Here, nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line at 200%. The county has a coronavirus mortality rate of 1,134 per 100,000 residents, which is significantly higher than the national average. national rate299 for every 100,000

Next on the list is Hancock in Georgia. It has a Covid-19 death ratio of 1,029 per 100,000 residents. More than 52% of the county’s population lives below 200% of the poverty line.

According to the new report the counties with highest coronavirus mortality rates had one-and a half times higher poverty rates that those with lower death rate.

President of the U.N. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs Sustainable Development Solutions Network and one of the experts behind the study, said the findings make clear that the pandemic is “not only a national tragedy, but also a failure of social justice.”

“The burden of disease — in terms of deaths, illness, and economic costs — was borne disproportionately by the poor, women, and people of color,” said Sachs. “The poor were America’s essential workers, on the front lines, saving lives and also incurring disease and death.”

Researchers who did the analysis will be expected to discuss their findings and expand on them during a press conferenceWashington, D.C., 10:00 AM ET The press conference will also feature representatives of some of the worst-hit and most vulnerable countries that were included in the report.

The analysis was released as the U.S. moves closer to the grim milestone of 1 million coronavirus deaths, an estimated toll that’s widely seen as an undercount.

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said in a statement Monday that “the Covid-19 disparities among counties across the U.S. are striking.”

“This report shows clearly that Covid-19 became a ‘poor people’s pandemic,’” said Theoharis. “We can no longer ignore the reality of poverty and dismiss its root causes as the problems of individual people or communities. There has been a systemic failure to address poverty in this country and poor communities have borne the consequences not only in this pandemic, but for years and generations before.”

“However, this does not need to continue,” she added. “Our nation has the resources to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up.”