US poor died at much higher rate from COVID than wealthy: Report
Americans living in poorer U.S. counties died during the pandemic at almost twice the rate of those in rich counties, a study released Monday by the Poor People's Campaign showed.
The study is based on income and death data from over 3,200 U.S. counties. The 300 counties with the highest death rates have an average poverty rate of 45%, and household median incomes on average $23,000 lower than counties with lower rates.
Many of the top twenty counties were sparsely populated areas in Georgia, Texas and Virginia, the report and an accompanying map of death rates and income online show.
"The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking and unjust, especially in light of the trillions of dollars that profit-driven entities received," said William Barber, director of the Poor People's Campaign, an activist group that aims to correct the US income inequality.
Such a staggering gulf in outcomes cannot be explained by differences in vaccination rates, the authors find, with more than half of the population of the poorest counties having received two vaccine shots. A more relevant factor is likely to be that the poorest communities had twice the proportion of people who lack health insurance compared with the richer counties.
The United States is the only wealthy nation not to guarantee health services for all, and witnessed the biggest decline in male life expectancy during the COVID-pandemic of 29 nations studied by Oxford University.
More than 980,000 Americans have died of COVID, the most of any country in the world.
Vaccine hesitancy that left one-fourth of all American adults unvaccinated likely accounts for hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths, public health experts say.