Editor's note

High rates of death among blacks with COVID-19 may shock many of us, but the news isn’t a surprise to scholars like Grace Noppert who study how money – or lack of it – affects health.

Noppert, a social and infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, has been studying the effects of poverty on the health of blacks, Hispanics and immigrants for years. She writes that “centuries of segregation and discrimination” have placed people of color in communities without access to health care and resulted in lower-paying jobs, stress and higher incidence of disease.

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Lynne Anderson

Senior Health + Medicine Editor

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Nurse Shelia Rickman participates in an after-shift demonstration on Monday, April 6, 2020, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, after media reports of disproportionate numbers of black people dying from COVID-19 in the city. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

COVID-19 is hitting black and poor communities the hardest, underscoring fault lines in access and care for those on margins

Grace A. Noppert, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Blacks are dying at higher rates from COVID than whites, showing yet another example of gaps in outcomes between blacks and other groups. The cause is more sociological than biological.

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