The News and Observer

By Sophie Kasakove

November 24, 2020

Between 2015 and 2017, 46.5% of people in poverty in Durham County were Black, 26.3% were Latino, and 19.4% were white, according to an analysis by Henry McKoy, a professor at the N.C. Central University School of Business.


“We know that there is structural racism and structural injustice that has been baked into our systems over many, many, many decades, and I think when we get into crisis points like this it only shines a light on what is happening,” said N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in an interview with The News & Observer.

“Our historically marginalized communities are also the ones keeping our economy going,” she continued. “These are our essential workers, they’re our child care workers — the majority of folks who work in long-term care settings are African-American women, those that work in our child care settings are women from African-American or Latinx communities.”

Cohen said the data reflects this; for example, Hispanic people, who often live in formerly redlined neighborhoods, make up 28% of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina but are just 10% of the state’s population. In Durham, Hispanic people make up 46% of the county’s 10,807 COVID-19 cases according to Durham County Public Health, but less than 14% of people in the county. The state does not track COVID-19 cases by socioeconomic status.