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The New York Times quoted Frederick Zimmerman, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, in a commentary about poverty being a leading indicator of mortality in the pandemic.
Months into the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have identified some clear patterns in which people who suffer from COVID-19 are most likely to die. Pre-existing medical conditions are one important factor. As of June 3, roughly nine in ten New Yorkers and Chicagoans who died of COVID-19 suffered from underlying chronic conditions. But those underlying conditions don’t affect everyone equally. They are much more prevalent among lower-income workers, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease and diabetes, for example, among the poorest 10 percent of New Yorkers are estimated to be more that 40 percent higher than the median rate.
This pattern holds true in many cities, not just those that are very densely populated like New York. In cities across the United States, people with the lowest incomes have considerably higher rates of diabetes, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, and kidney and pulmonary disease — conditions that put Covid-19 patients at a higher risk of severe illness.
A recent U.C.L.A. study of 25 years of C.D.C. data showed that growing income inequality in the United States has deepened the health gap between the rich and poor.