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Leftists Who Insisted Covid Health Care Was ‘Racist’ Test Positive For Confirmation Bias

Three empty hospital beds along a wall.
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The view that systemic racism contributed to Covid-19 misery continues to hold sway in medical articles today — but it’s false.


In mid-March, House Resolution 1062 — “Declar[ing] racism a public health crisis” — was filed by two congressmen from Connecticut. “This resolution aims to highlight the detrimental effects communities of color face when seeking treatment,” they said in a press release.

In particular, H. RES. 1062 suggests that “during the COVID–19 pandemic, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Native American communities experienced disproportionately high rates of COVID–19 infection, hospitalization, and mortality compared to the White population of the United States.”

This popular assumption overtook the medical establishment and the media soon after Covid-19 descended on America early in the election year of 2020. Early in the pandemic, blacks and Hispanics were dying at higher rates than whites, and this was viewed as irrefutable evidence of systemic racism in health care.

The media went all-in on this. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times ran stories on it in April 2020, as did NPR in September 2020 and The Washington Post in November 2020.

But the data shows, four years later, that this assumption was a rush to judgment — nonwhite people actually died in numbers that were comparable to their portion of the population. CDC data for 1,175,876 Covid deaths from January 2020 through February 2024 show that blacks comprised 13.6 percent of all Covid deaths, in line with their 13.6 percent of the population; Hispanics were almost 15 percent of mortalities, less than their 19.1 percent of the population; Asians accounted for 3.14 percent of all Covid casualties, half their 6 percent portion of the nation; and Non-Hispanic whites made up 67 percent of all Covid deaths — even more than their 58.9 percent share of the population.

Whites skew older than blacks and Hispanics, and this is why whites made up two-thirds of Covid deaths. People over age 50 comprised more than 93.5 percent of Covid mortalities, and those over 65 posed 76 percent of deaths, CDC data shows. 

Even when the death stats are adjusted for age, the disproportionate impact is less than feared: Blacks made up 21.5 percent of age-adjusted deaths versus 12.8 percent of the age-adjusted population; Hispanics made up 27 percent of deaths and 19.6 percent of the population. 

Thus, in the Covid crisis, any disparities among racial groups owe more to different rates of pre-existing medical conditions, “essential” employment in the lockdown, and neighborhood density than to systemic racism in treatment.

Yet the damning view that systemic racism contributed to Covid-19 misery continues to hold sway in medical articles from the beginning of the pandemic to today. As recent as February 2024, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article by researchers at Duke University claiming the pandemic was “providing a more accurate understanding that was unsurprising to anyone who has examined health equity: covid-19 is a preventable disease that disproportionately affects racial minorities. … [T]he effects … were magnified most powerfully for black, Latino, and indigenous people in the US.”

Back in April 2020, one early medical article was published on the Journal of the American Medical Association website by Dr. Clyde W. Yancy — the vice dean of diversity and inclusion at Northwestern University and a cardiologist for 42 years. “The pattern is irrefutable: underrepresented minorities are developing COVID-19 infection more frequently and dying disproportionately,” Yancy wrote. “Why is this uniquely important to me? I am an academic cardiologist; I study health care disparities; and I am a black man.” 

He noted that a survey of 131 black-majority counties found an infection rate more than three-fold higher than in white counties — and a death rate more than six-fold higher. “A 6-fold increase in the rate of death for African Americans due to a now ubiquitous virus should be deemed unconscionable. This is a moment of ethical reckoning.”

His column has been cited 1,330 times by other medical articles. 

The CDC reports, “For over 5% of these deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate,” meaning it’s likely preexisting conditions played a role in up to some 95 percent of Covid-19 mortalities — with an average of four comorbidities per death. Blacks have significantly higher rates of the top five most common comorbidities, the CDC says. Given this, it is remarkable that Covid-19 didn’t kill far more blacks and other racial minorities. 

Asked about this, Dr. Yancy responded to me: “Ultimately, there is no good story here. Nothing amazing; no victory. These are real deaths, impacting real people across the full spectrum of America. … [M]y own patients felt the sting of death.” 

He continued, “You are correct; death rates eventually regressed to the mean, a not unexpected biostatistical phenomenon, but the consequent and residual toll on our communities cannot be overstated” (italics his).

Still, the statistics paint a brighter picture than the medical establishment will admit. Perhaps we are making progress in ensuring nonwhite people get better access to better care. But when you hold a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When the “experts” have spent years decrying racism in our health care system, they see Covid-19 as further proof of their long-held views — no matter what the data actually shows.

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