New data released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Black people have been contracting COVID-19 at a rate three times higher than that of white people, including here on the Cape.
During a news conference on Thursday, July 9, state Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) said the New York Times sued the CDC to get the nationwide data and then broke it down county by county.
While the data are incomplete, he said, they paint a stark picture nonetheless.
The data are accurate through May 28. Only 49 percent of cases have racial data attached in Barnstable County.
Vaira Harik, deputy director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, said the disparity in the numbers is caused by a number of factors, including access to healthcare, and social and community context. Additionally, she said, these are issues that do not apply only to the current health pandemic; the disparity exists when it comes to many other health issues including, for example, diabetes and hypertension.
Sen. Cyr noted that 43 percent of all essential workers are people of color, which adds to the disparity.
Ms. Harik said the county data do not include the numbers for the Hispanic and Asian populations in the region because those data have not been collected at this time.
United Healthcare Workers East 199SEIU Vice President Jerry Fishbein said many Cape workers are being encouraged to stay home when they are sick, but many of those same people do not have access to paid sick time and are often penalized by their employers for having to take time off from work.
He said there is pending legislation regarding emergency paid sick time, but there are currently no income protections in place for a lot of the workforce.
Sen. Cyr said there are cracks in the system that have always been known to exist, but that the pandemic has exposed those cracks to be “gaping fissures.”
In other COVID news, the fact that there is an ongoing health crisis did not seem to put a damper on the Independence Day weekend as thousands of visitors flocked to Cape Cod.
Beaches were packed and there were miles-long backups at each of the canal bridges. The Sandwich police fielded nearly as many calls over the past week as they did during the same stretch of time last year.
Still, the pandemic is still here. The Cape has continued to see increases in the number of COVID-19 cases, albeit remaining in the single digits when it comes to the daily new cases reported. The average number of new cases reported daily over the past week was three, with six in one day being the highest and no new cases reported for two of those days.
The average deaths reported over the past week is less than one per day.
Area hospitals are also seeing declines in the number of COVID-19 patients being seen with no more than nine patients between both Cape hospitals over the past week. There was only one patient reported to be in intensive care during the week, and that was for a single day.
Sen. Cyr said if the weekend had any tangible impact on the health data in the county, that information will be coming in the next 10 to 14 days, when new cases would start to appear.