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Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

170,000 years of potential life lost, mostly Black and Latinx

A Harvard study finds Black and Latinx demographics have lost the most lives to COVID-19, but are these numbers truly “sobering” if we remain on the same…

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May 19th, 2022

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An estimated 170,000 years of life has been lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Black and Latinx lives bearing the majority.

Researchers at Harvard used the Years of Potential Life Lost to show the racial divides between ethnic groups and the impact of COVID-19. It is one of the first to use age-specific data to reveal a deeper understanding of the coronavirus mortality rate. 

The staggering number is not only the culmination of Black and Latinx lives lost, but that 138,000 are under the age of 65.

Even though the white demographic outnumbers Black people and Latinx groups, the years of potential life lost are higher among the latter groups. The study found Black people have collectively lost 45,777 years of life.  Latinos have lost 48,204 years.

For comparison, white individuals are estimated to have lost 33,446 years, while having a 3-4 times larger population.

Vox referred to this toll— 138,000 years under age 65 — as “sobering,” and yes, the numbers are staggering. 

This racial inequality has cost Black and Latinx individuals an enormous toll, that we cannot begin to comprehend. But is it sobering? Not really, especially as politicians continue to ignore the disproportionate Black, and Latinx coronavirus deaths.

And these numbers will only continue to increase, as there is currently no clear end to the pandemic in sight, no approved vaccination, and various leaders are failing to implement adequate measures.

States like Arizona, Texas, and Florida did not implement them to slow the spread, instead prioritizing the economy. It wasn’t until criticism heated-up that measures in select states slowly began to be put back in place. 

Each of these states also have high Latinx populations.

“AZ is in a state of crisis,” tweeted Regina Romero, Mayor of Tucson Monday. “I’m urging Doug Ducey to start reversing his re-opening plans and protect public health.”

In regards to Governor Ducey’s upcoming press conference on the possibility of mandating masks, the Arizona House Democrats pointed out that while the action is welcomed, he is weeks too-late.

“If this is to re-close bars, mandate masks and push back school re-openings, this really should have occurred last week at the latest when the Governor finally acknowledged that COVID-19 was on a rampage in Arizona but did nothing,” the account tweeted.

The lack of response has led to an unfathomable toll in Black and Latinx communities. But is there any hope for accountability? Especially when the dismissal is coming from the highest level of political power? There may be a day of reckoning but it will not be soon enough.

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