Communities of color in Virginia are bearing the brunt of Donald Trump’s COVID-19 crisis
Richmond, VA — Donald Trump’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 120,000 infections and killed over 2,500 people in Virginia alone. But the pandemic’s effects have not affected everyone equally. Communities of color are seeing higher infection and death rates than the Commonwealth as a whole, and Black and Latino workers are bearing the brunt of the economic damage. As the president’s actions continue to exacerbate the worst public health crisis in a century, Virginians of color are shouldering the burden.
In Richmond, 8 out of 10 new COVID cases as of mid-August were a Black or Latino Virginian. In Northern Virginia, Latinos accounted for 60% of the region’s new cases in July, though they represent just 18% of the region’s population. These trends are consistent with national data that shows Black and Latino Americans suffering disproportionately from higher infection and mortality rates from the pandemic. According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, 6 out of the 10 localities with the highest COVID death rate have a larger minority population than the Commonwealth as a whole.
The economic impacts of Trump’s recession have hurt workers and business owners of color in Virginia particularly hard. According to the Roanoke Times, “jobless claims by Black workers have exceeded those by white workers since late June, even though Black people make up only about a fifth of the state’s workforce.” Research shows that Black and Latino workers are much less likely to be able to work from home than white workers nationwide, placing them at greater risk of infection. And sectors that have been the most affected by COVID like retail and hospitality have higher percentages of Black and Latino workers than the economy as a whole.
For small business owners of color, Trump’s mismanagement of the PPP program has shut them out of much-needed economic aid. Nationwide, 110,000 small businesses have closed, with Black and Latino business owners suffering disproportionately. This is particularly difficult for Virginia, which has one of the highest percentages in the country of minority-owned businesses, and whose economy will feel the loss more than most states
“Donald Trump’s failed leadership has caused the worst public health and economic crises that Americans have faced in generations, and communities of color in Virginia are bearing the brunt of the damage. Black and Latino Virginians are more likely to lose a loved one, lose their job, or close their small business due to COVID, yet all President Trump has to say is, ‘it is what it is,’” said DPVA Communications Director Grant Fox.