Non-Virus Related Deaths During the Pandemic Also More Likely to Impact African Americans

More than 500,000 people have died in the United States after being infected with COVID-19. But a new study shows that the death toll resulting from the pandemic is even higher.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the Boston University School of Health estimate that the spring 2020 spike in unemployment in the United States would lead to 30,231 excess deaths among 25- to 64-year-olds in the ensuing 12 months. Job losses can lead to excess deaths from suicide, substance abuse, and the loss of access to medical care.

As with the deaths that were directly caused by the virus, those linked to unemployment have taken a disproportionate toll on Black people, especially those with the least education. While about 37 percent of Americans aged 25 to 64 years have a high school education or less, this group accounted for a startling 72 percent of the deaths the researchers attributed to pandemic-related unemployment. Likewise, while Black people make up 12 percent of the working-age population, they comprised 19 percent of the projected excess deaths.

“Adequately responding to the pandemic involves not only controlling COVID-19 cases and deaths, but also addressing indirect social and economic consequences,” said Ellicott Matthay, a postdoctoral scholar with the Center for Health and Community at the University of California, San Francisco and lead author of the study.

The full study, “Projected All-Cause Deaths Attributable to COVID-19–Related Unemployment in the United States,” was published on the website of the American Journal of Public Health. It may be accessed here.

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