Coronavirus’ racially disparate impact is no surprise — pols ignored causes for years

In a display of the worst kind of political catch-up, Mayor Bill de Blasio last Sunday appointed his wife Chirlane as head of a coronavirus racial-inequality task force.

Six years into his tenure, de Blasio seeks to identify the “structural racism” that contributes to the health-care and health-outcomes disparities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as city data shows the virus hitting especially hard at New York’s black and Hispanic communities.

Thing is, this isn’t anything new: In particular, the conditions associated with much higher deaths from the bug, including obesity and hypertension, have long plagued blacks and Hispanics at elevated levels.

But: “The city and state have long been aware of these disparities” fumed Chris Norwood, head of the Bronx-based Health People — after all, treating “chronic disease is practically the entire Medicaid budget.”

Decades of national data show that African Americans are 20 percent are more likely to have asthma and 40 percent more likely to be hypertensive. And black women are three times more likely to have lupus.

Critics like Norwood say the state and city health departments know perfectly well the massive studies showing what works to reduce the toll of chronic disease — yet have been utterly indifferent for years.

Charmaine Ruddock, executive director of Bronx Health REACH, says the city has been slow to address many of the disconcerting perceptions in the black and Hispanic communities about their risk of getting COVID-19 and the precautionary measures needed.

City and state leaders know that health behaviors in these communities need to change, Ruddock also notes — but those leaders have never scaled up programs that could help do that.

Instead, state and city budgets have devoted resources to the needs of special interests. Yet de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo pretend to be blindsided by the higher death tolls in communities of color.

We don’t really need a new panel to examine the health-disparity issue. If anything, the pandemic has revealed to black and Hispanic New Yorkers the indifference of the local progressive leadership when it comes to the chronic diseases decimating their communities.

Maybe they’ll make them pay the price for that indifference once the pandemic recedes.

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