We know that COVID-19 does not affect all demographics uniformly, but new analysis from the independent journalism site “The Marshall Project” paints a stark picture of disparate racial impacts. Plotting excess deaths (not specific to COVID-19, but during this year) for different racial groups in every state highlights how people of color have borne the brunt of the losses this year. On the one hand, the tragedy illustrates another dimension of structural racism. On the other hand, no wonder many white people with homogeneous social and cultural networks find it hard to believe there has been much impact at all. As with so many other things, when it comes to COVID-19, there is more than one America.
The Sturgis motorcycle rally embodies this divide. The long-term infection impact of that huge event in South Dakota (almost 500,000 people converging during a week of revelry, then dispersing across the country) will probably be extensive. Yet, it might be less than expected, based on national average infection rates, precisely because of the overwhelming whiteness of event participants. Even when the virus comes closer, there is still a remove, depending on who you are. The reported numbers and individual daily experience don’t always match up. Here’s a review of our numbers in Union County in August: