Masks aren’t the only answer to keeping workers safe

Michal Grinstein-Weiss, the Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor at the Brown School and director of the Social Policy Institute

 

While it may be tempting to assume rising coronavirus cases are due to people’s failure to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the answer is not that simple. A nationally representative survey administered by Washington University’s Social Policy Institute suggests that the economic realities of Black and Hispanic individuals could contribute to a higher risk of contracting the virus. While 82% of Hispanic and 77% of Black respondents said they wore a mask, only 70% of white respondents said they did. Yet the concentration of Black and Hispanic workers in essential jobs may render even the strictest adherence insufficient.

This tells us that if given the opportunity or choice, Black and Hispanic populations are most likely to follow government guidelines — yet they are still being infected at higher rates than white people. We see this play out in St. Louis where disproportionate numbers of coronavirus cases are occurring in ZIP codes that are largely Black or Hispanic and low-income.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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