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The Editors

Covid-19 Exposes America’s Racial Disparities

The coronavirus is hitting Black Americans especially hard. The U.S. has to fix this.

The coronavirus isn’t colorblind.

The coronavirus isn’t colorblind.

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

Covid-19 rarely assaults children with the force it uses against adults, especially older people. But some kids who have been infected with the coronavirus develop a potentially fatal condition that brings fever, shock and organ failure. For some reason, this rare “multisystem inflammatory syndrome” afflicts Black children at significantly higher rates than White children.

The disparity is not confined to children. Across the U.S., Covid-19 poses a broader threat to people of African ancestry. Studies and data from several states show that Black Americans contract coronavirus at rates much higher than their share of the population. Their death rates are higher, too, especially in middle age; adjusted for age, Black death rates are 3.6 times those of Whites. Medicare data suggest that, among elderly Americans, being Black is a Covid-19 risk factor almost as great as being over the age of 85.