Race and ethnic minority, local pollution, and COVID-19 deaths in Texas.
ABSTRACT: The costs of COVID-19 are extensive, and, like the fallout of most health and environmental crises in the US, there is growing evidence that these costs weigh disproportionately on communities of color. We investigated whether county-level racial composition and fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) are indicators for COVID-19 incidence and death rates in the state of Texas. Using county-level data, we ran linear regressions of percent minority as well as historic 2000-2016 PM2.5 levels against COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita. We found that a county's percent minority racial composition, defined as the percentage of population that identifies as Black or Hispanic, highly correlates with COVID-19 case and death rates. Using Value-of-Statistical-Life calculations, we found that economic costs from COVID-19 deaths fall more heavily on Black and Hispanic residents in Harris County, the most populous county in Texas. We found no consistent evidence or significant correlations between historic county-average PM2.5 concentration and COVID-19 incidence or death. Our findings suggest that public health and economic aid policy should consider the racially-segregated burden of disease to better mitigate costs and support equity for the duration and aftermath of health crises.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC8770513 | BioStudies |