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Black Women Are Affected Disproportionately By COVID-19 In N.H., New Data Shows

This snapshot of the state's new COVID-19 dashboard shows infection rates across racial and gender lines.

Newly released state data shows Black women in New Hampshire have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, echoing patterns seen across the country in the last few months of the pandemic. 

Looking only at raw numbers, white residents account for the majority of New Hampshire’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. But when state officials adjusted those numbers to account for the sizes of individual racial and ethnic groups within the overall population, they found non-white residents have been infected at much higher rates than their white neighbors

(Related story: New Report Highlights Racial Disparities In N.H. Pandemic Response)

While Black women make up a relatively small percentage of the state's overall population, state data shows they are overrepresented among New Hampshire's COVID-19 cases.

The state has racial data for most - but not all - COVID-19 cases reported to-date. The data that is available shows Black women in New Hampshire have been infected at roughly six times the rate of white women, and more than eight times the rate of white men, when adjusted for population.

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Overall, non-white residents are getting infected at higher rates than white residents, when adjusted for population. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard suggests Black and Latino residents are also being hospitalized and dying at higher rates than white residents, though the state cautions that it might not be possible to draw “statistically meaningful” conclusions because of the small number of hospitalizations and deaths reported across different groups.

While the new data provides a greater level of detail than ever before on the extent of the state's racial disparities in the pandemic, the available data pointed to such disparities early on.

Gov. Chris Sununu assembled a COVID-19 Equity Response Team in May to examine the disproportionate impact that the pandemic is having on communities of color, after his Council on Diversity and Inclusion urged the state to take stronger action on the issue.

A recent report from that Equity Response Team noted "women of color are more likely to be considered 'essential' workers with higher risk of exposure.” That can, in turn, increase the risk for their families and neighbors, the report added.

The team called for strengthened workplace protections as one tool to mitigate the racial disparities New Hampshire has seen in the pandemic.

This story is free, but you can support NHPR's reporting by becoming a member today.

Casey is a Senior News Editor for NHPR. You can contact her with questions or feedback at cmcdermott@nhpr.org.
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