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Maps & Trends

Disparity Explorer

In states across the nation, COVID-19 has afflicted certain groups of people at rates that exceed their share of populations. For example, Black residents make up less than half of Washington, D.C.’s population, but a year into the pandemic they accounted for more than half of cases there. Being able to find such disproportionate harm is critical for devising effective government responses to the most vulnerable communities. But detecting disparities across all demographic categories in all states is impossible because so few health agencies collect the necessary data. And states that do collect it use different parameters for delineating age, race, ethnicity, and gender/sex.

This graphic depicts each subcategory within those major demographic divisions with the two key metrics needed to flag disparate impacts: their percentage of state populations (gray bars) and their share of cases, deaths, tests, or vaccinations (colored bars). Divergences of 5% or more between the two metrics for cases and deaths and 5% or less for tests and vaccines are considered indicators of significant disparities. Those are highlighted by darker colors. However, some disparities that appear to qualify as significant will not be highlighted when the percentage of “unknowns” is too high to perform reliable calculations.

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