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Analysis: Blacks, Hispanics have higher share of deaths

Suffolk County has set up coronavirus testing sites

Suffolk County has set up coronavirus testing sites in heavily populated minority communities, incuding Brentwood. Credit: James Carbone

Blacks and Hispanics composed a larger share of coronavirus deaths than their share of state and New York City populations, according to state Department of Health data.

Black people on Long Island also have a higher incidence of death from the virus when compared with their share of the population, but Hispanic Long Islanders do not.

In the city, African-Americans make up 28% of coronavirus deaths but compose 22% of the population, the data showed. Hispanics make up 34% of virus deaths but 29% of the city’s population. 

For the rest of New York State, excluding the city, blacks make up 19% of virus deaths and 9% of the population. Hispanics make up 14% of virus deaths and 12% of the state’s population, according to the data, which was as of Monday.

On Long Island, African-Americans make up about 12% of Nassau County’s population but accounted for 19% of coronavirus deaths. Hispanics were nearly 17% of the county's population, and composed 12% of virus deaths as of Monday, according to the state. 

In Suffolk County, blacks were just under 8% of the population and composed 12% of the deaths from COVID-19. Hispanics, at nearly 19% of Suffolk's population, composed 15% of deaths from the virus.

Some of the areas with the highest infection rates per capita include Hempstead in Nassau and Brentwood in Suffolk, according to Newsday's analysis.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that the disproportionate impact the virus has had on minorities was “not nearly as bad as in many other states, but any disparity is bad."

One of the reasons the numbers are so high, health officials said, is because some blacks and Hispanics do not have health insurance. David Nemiroff, president and chief executive of the Long Island FQHC, which stands for federally qualified health centers, has seen it firsthand.

"We have about 10,000 patients who don’t have insurance," Nemiroff said.

When help is sought at one of the centers, "we don’t ask immigration status," Nemiroff said. "So we can’t tell you for sure if they’re undocumented or not. But we can assume it, [and] there’s a lot of people who are uninsured, and those folks ... are coming to us as a last hope and/or going to the emergency room. And, unfortunately, that’s not the answer."

The analysis of state coronavirus tallies shows that two-thirds of those living in the 20 Suffolk communities with the largest number of infections per capita, as of May 6, are black or Hispanic, as are 62% of those living in the top 20 Nassau communities. In the 20 Nassau communities with the fastest rate of new infections per capita — a seven-day average of new cases per day through May 6 — two-thirds of residents are black or Hispanic, as are 60% of those in the top 20 Suffolk communities.

Five of the 10 Suffolk communities where the largest number of residents had tested positive for the virus as of May 6 are predominantly minority, including Brentwood, Central Islip, North Bay Shore, Bay Shore and North Amityville. Two of the other five have black or Hispanic populations exceeding 40%, including Huntington Station and Copiague.

In Nassau, four of the 10 communities with the largest number of positive tests, as of May 6, are predominantly minority, including Hempstead, Freeport, Elmont and Uniondale. One of the other six, Valley Stream, has a black or Hispanic population exceeding 40%.

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