5 Takeaways From McKinsey Report: Protecting Black America From Coronavirus

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Protecting Black America
Here are six takeaways from McKinsey & Company’s report that details the impact of COVID-19 and how important protecting Black America from the pandemic is. Los Angeles African Americans have a higher coronavirus death rate than their white peers, according to the latest data released. LA resident Larnell Brown, 66, wears gloves and a mask as he steps out of his vehicle outside the Crenshaw Christian Center before it opens as a testing site for COVID-19 in South Los Angeles, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

For weeks experts have predicted Black America would be most drastically affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As those predictions have come to pass, McKinsey & Company has released a report that details the impact of COVID-19 and how to protect Black Americans during the pandemic. Here are six takeaways from McKinsey’s report.

1. Black America is almost twice as likely to live in the counties at highest risk of health and economic disruption from the coronavirus.

According to McKinsey’s report, Black Americans are 1.4 to 1.8 times more likely to live in high-risk counties. They are 43 percent more likely than the national average of 33 percent to reside in areas where the pandemic will disrupt life badly.

2. Black Americans are more likely to become critical and die from COVID-19, while having lower access to testing.

Based on the report, Black Americans are 30 percent more likely to have pre-existing health conditions like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, etc. that cause severe complications from COVID-19.

The report also states that based on data, as of April 4 “ten of the 16 states where 65 percent of black Americans live were below the median testing rate for the country as a whole.”

3. Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to work low-paying, high-contact essential jobs that put them at greater risk of infection.

“Thirty-three percent of nursing assistants, 39 percent of orderlies, and 39 percent of psychiatric aides, are black. Black workers are putting their lives and health on the line to provide goods and services that matter to our society,” the report states.

Black workers are also employed in grocery stores and other companies considered essential.

The report also states that despite working in high-contact essential jobs, Black Americans are also at higher risk of being laid off, furloughed or having a reduction in hours.

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4. Black Americans are also work or own businesses in industries most vulnerable to economic collapse because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to the report, over 7 million jobs held by Black workers are at risk of being lost as a result of COVID-19.

The report also states, “Forty percent of the revenues of black-owned businesses are located in the five most vulnerable sectors—including leisure, hospitality, and retail—compared with 25 percent of the revenues of all US businesses.”

5. To protect Black America from the disparities caused by centuries of structural and systemic racism and oppression, the damage and recovery caused by COVID-19 should be tracked among racial lines; and aid should be distributed accordingly.

McKiney recommends collecting data on “rates of infection, access to healthcare providers and testing, jobs lost, and small business loans allocated.” It then recommends filling in gaps with aid based on findings.

The report also recommends health care workers be trained and dispatched to vulnerable Black communities; personal protective equipment (PPE) be distributed to essential workers; and wraparound services provided.

They call on employers to find creative ways to keep workers employed; be equitable when down-sizing; and provide programs like cash assistance, rainy-day funds, etc.

6. Though COVID-19 is a trial, it can also be an opportunity to begin progressing towards equity for Black America.

Authors of the report call on the U.S. to address the public health and socioeconomic disparities that have plagued Black Americans since they were first stolen from Africa’s shores and brought this country.

The report states “Investments in public health, digital infrastructure, institutions of public education, and economic development planning should continue long after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.”

It recommends support to Black home and businessowners to avoid a loss of assets and the little wealth the community has been able to build.

It ends by stating the following:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is already a generation-defining crisis. Because it affects all social systems, it heightens preexisting structural challenges that black Americans face. But a trial can also be an opportunity. Our society can consider how we can respond to the COVID-19 crisis and fallout to fortify black communities and help them do more than simply recover. We can use the urgency of the pandemic to build more equitable systems that increase the long-term resilience of black Americans, communities, and institutions. As we progress toward this goal, the US economy could benefit to the tune of $1.5 trillion.”