Sandra Quinn
May 12, 2020

Nonwhite patients are succumbing to COVID-19 at higher rates than white patients, Wired reported. In Washington, D.C., Black residents account for 45 percent of the population of Washington, DC, but almost 80 percent of deaths. 

But, Sandra Quinn, associate director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity says the data isn't surprising. 

“Anyone who has been studying health disparities is not surprised by this,” Quinn told Wired in an interview. “It has nothing to do with this virus per se. It has everything to do with racism, with poverty, with institutional structures and policies that have caused health disparities to be perpetuated decade after decade after decade.”

Quinn has conducted a study on the racial disparities of the H1N1 pandemic, and has also conducted a survey to understand whether certain social policies increased the risk of exposure to influenza. 

She found that with better access to sick leave, 5 million of the 60 million people who got sick during the H1N1 pandemic would not have been exposed. 

“Congress has talked some about” addressing the disparities, Quinn told Wired. “Several states have taken action. But as a nation, have we really grappled with that issue since 2009? The answer’s no.”