A recent report from the Poor People’s Campaign highlights a key overlooked demographic in the pandemic response: poor and low-income people. Data from over 3,200 counties across the United States show that, after the first wave of the pandemic, poor counties experienced substantially higher death rates than richer counties.
During the pandemic, people living in poorer counties died at nearly two times the rate of people who lived in richer counties: After grouping counties by median household income into ten groups with equal population size (deciles), the report shows that death rates in the highest income group are half the death rates in the lowest income group.
• During the deadliest phases of the pandemic, poorer counties saw many times more deaths than wealthier counties:
A recent Pew study that broke the pandemic up into six phases shows that the deadliest phases of the pandemic to date were in winter 2020-2021 and the Omicron period.
Except for the first phase in March 2020, death rates were many times higher in poorer counties than in richer counties:
- The second phase was mostly experienced by poorer counties.
- During the third phase (winter 2020-2021), death rates were 4.5 times higher in counties with the lowest median income than in counties with the highest.
- During the Delta variant phase (August-November 2021), death rates were five times higher in these low-income counties.
- The Omicron variant phase (approx. December 2021-February+) has had a death rate nearly three times higher in counties with the lowest median incomes compared to those with the highest median incomes
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