Black women more likely to die from COVID infections
(Darren Baker/Shutterstock)

Black Women — Behind Only Black Men — As Group Most Likely to Die From COVID-19 Infections, New Study Warns

Researchers believed that men of all races were more likely to die from COVID-19 than women for much of the pandemic’s first year. But new research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine has turned that belief upside down, revealing that women — particularly Black women — are the most likely to die from a COVID-19 infection. The only group dying at a faster rate? Black men.

Kate Gibson of CBS News has reported that “Black women in the U.S. are dying from the virus at a higher rate than any other group, male or female, except Black men, according to an analysis of COVID-19 mortality patterns by race and gender in Georgia and Michigan.”

“The deaths we see in the pandemic reflect pre-existing structural inequities; after the pandemic is gone, those will still be there,” said Heather Shattuck-Heidorn, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of gender and women studies at the University of Maine, in an interview with CBS. 

“Whatever is going on is probably not linked to the X chromosome or the Y chromosome,” Shattuck-Heidorn added, pointing out that sex-determining genes aren’t behind the heightened death rates but rather things going on within our culture, such as Black women’s increased role in the workforce as essential workers.

“While it’s generally understood that social inequality and racism — not genetics — drive the racial disparities that have had White Americans dying of COVID-19 at lower rates than Black Americans, the differences in gender outcomes have been viewed as biological,” Gibson reported. “If that gender-based premise were true, however, a similar sex disparity should be apparent across different locations — and it’s not.”

For example, in New York City, men are still dying from COVID-19 infections at 1.3 times the rate as women. In neighboring Connecticut, death rates for men and women are virtually equal. According to Gibson, these types of anomalies have led researchers to believe that “the sex-disparity in mortality among COVID patients is largely rooted in social factors.”

In an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe on April 5, Harvard researchers Tamara Rushovich and Sarah Richardson wrote “[many news stories] frame sex disparities in COVID-19 outcomes as a matter of essential biological differences between the sexes. Our findings support a contrary view, that biological factors, at best, play a small role. Rather, social factors influenced by structural gendered racism are key to the patterns of sex disparities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic. … Without looking at the intersections between gender and race, the blanket claim, that women with COVID-19 fare better than men, makes invisible the high death rate among Black women.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

Yolanda King

13-Year-Old Granddaughter of MLK, Yolanda Renee King, Calls for ‘Work’ and ‘Action’

On what would have been the late civil rights icon’s 93rd birthday, Martin Luther King Jr.’s 13-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee King proudly stood in his place, speaking out to a crowd of supporters and actively calling for all of us to continue the work her grandfather started. Maya Eaglin of…

Navient Corporation

Navient Agrees to $1.7-Billion Settlement for Abusive Lending Practices Impacting Thousands of US College Students

The price of a college education continues to be a stumbling block to many across the country. According to the Education Data Initiative, an estimated 43.2 million individuals are currently paying off loans with an average value of more than $39,000. Of that group, Black students and college graduates are…

Michele C. Meyer-Shipp

People on the Move: Michele C. Meyer-Shipp, New CEO of ‘Dressed for Success Worldwide’

Dress for Success Worldwide, the global nonprofit organization designed to empower women to succeed in business by providing a network of support, professional attire and personal development tools, has announced a change in its executive leadership. Michele C. Meyer-Shipp will become the new CEO of the organization, succeeding Joi Gordon. …

statues, MLK, king

Celebrating 5 MLK Statues, Memorials and Significant Locations Across the Country—All Worth a Visit

A crucial part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in the Civil Rights movement was protecting voting rights. Instead of MLK Day celebrations this year, the leader’s family is spearheading a supportive push towards voting rights reform across the country. Statues honoring Dr. King’s activism and messages pay tribute…