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Mount Sinai poll: Minorities more likely to change or lose jobs during pandemic

Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief

Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, said data from clinical trials will determine whether a vaccine for the coronavirus is safe. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Black and Latino residents of Long Island and New York City are more likely to say they have changed or lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll finds.

The poll also found that more than half of respondents either will not take a coronavirus vaccine or are not sure if they will, and that more than 90% of residents with children attending in-person classes believe school reopenings have been at least moderately successful.

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside commissioned the poll, which was of 600 people who were selected randomly. It was conducted Oct. 4-8 and has a margin of error of 3.9%, up to 10% for subgroups, such as parents with children attending school.


Employment status

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside surveyed 600 residents of Long Island and New York City about COVID-19 and its effects. Here is what respondents said about their employment status.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4-8, has a margin of error of 3.9%. The margin of error is up to 10% for subgroups of the overall sample.


The poll found that 82% of white respondents were employed at the same job as before COVID-19 — but only 68% of Hispanic and 69% of Black respondents were.

Thirty-one percent of Black and Hispanic residents said they were either unemployed or had a different job than before the pandemic, compared with 18% of whites.

The gap is largely because Black and Hispanic workers are more likely than whites to be employed in low-wage jobs, including in food service, cleaning and other sectors hit especially hard by the economic effects of the pandemic, said Martin Melkonian, adjunct associate professor of economics at Hofstra University. Struggling businesses are more likely to lay off low-wage employees than highly educated professionals, he said.

"Firms that hire professionals and people at relatively high wages are more reluctant to get rid of them, since it’s harder to get those folks, whereas when you’re talking about people with lesser skills, they’re generally quite abundant and they historically have been that way, so they’re more likely to get rid of them if they’re facing problems themselves," Melkonian said.

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High unemployment means businesses may calculate that they can easily find replacement workers once the business’ financial situation improves, he said.

National surveys also have documented the greater economic impact of the pandemic on Blacks and Latinos.

A nationwide survey released last month by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University found that 72% of Latinos, 60% of Blacks and 55% of Native Americans reported serious financial problems during the pandemic, compared with 37% of Asians and 36% of whites.


Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside surveyed 600 residents of Long Island and New York City about COVID-19 and its effects. Here is what respondents said when asked if they would take a COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4-8, has a margin of error of 3.9%. The margin of error is up to 10% for subgroups of the overall sample.


The South Nassau poll also found that only 46% of respondents said they would get a vaccine when one becomes available, with 24% saying they wouldn’t and 30% unsure or declining to answer. The numbers are almost identical to findings from a Mount Sinai South Nassau poll in May.

Of those who won’t get a vaccine, two-thirds said they believe a vaccine is being rushed and won’t be safe.

Dr. Adhi Sharma, chief medical officer at South Nassau, said those who say the process has been rushed are right. But, he said, "While it has been rushed, it’s gone through all the phases of a normal FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval for a new drug or vaccine."


Do you trust the FDA?

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside surveyed 600 residents of Long Island and New York City about COVID-19 and its effects. Here is what respondents said when asked if they trust the Food and Drug Administration to impartially determine if a COVID vaccine is safe and effective for release to the public.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4-8, has a margin of error of 3.9%. The margin of error is up to 10% for subgroups of the overall sample.


Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at South Nassau, said data from these clinical trials will determine whether a vaccine is safe.

Ninety-two percent of parents with children attending in-person school classes said their kids’ return to school has been moderately successful or successful, with only 7% saying it has been unsuccessful.

No Long Island school has had a major coronavirus outbreak since classes resumed. Sharma said that is partly because "we’ve been very diligent and vigilant" by implementing safety guidelines that include mandatory masks and social distancing, along with contact tracing when students test positive.


School reopenings

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital surveyed 600 residents of Long Island and New York City about COVID-19 and its effects. Here is what respondents said about their child's or children's school reopenings.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4-8, has a margin of error of 3.9%. The margin of error is up to 10% for subgroups of the overall sample.


Glatt said another factor is that studies suggest that young children may be less contagious than teenagers and adults.

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