‘We Roar’: Wailoo Sees the Intersecting Vulnerabilities Behind COVID-19 Fatalities
In the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast, historian Keith Wailoo discusses how race, class, urban congestion and a failed public health system have contributed to the extraordinary gulf in coronavirus fatality rates.
“Two months in, it became clear that there were these shocking disparities in the way the coronavirus was manifesting itself along lines of race, but also along the lines of urban life,” says Wailoo, Princeton’s Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Policy and the chair of the history department, who was featured in “Race in the COVID Era: What America’s History of Racism and Xenophobia Means for Today” on June 8. Watch the event on Facebook.
Nationwide, the overall COVID-19 mortality rate for African Americans is 2.4 times as high as the rate for whites and 2.2 times as high as the rate for Asians and Latinx individuals, but that national average masks some stronger regional disparities. In the podcast, Wailoo cites the example of Wisconsin, where only 6% of the population is African American, but 27% of the COVID-19 fatalities are African American.
“Epidemics have always been incredible revealers of underlying disparities, of the underlying character of a society,” he says.