Through Freedom of Information Law requests, City Limits obtained data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for weekly COVID-19 deaths from March 2020 to the end of July of 2022, offering a breakdown of fatalities by race/ethnicity for each week of the early crisis.
It’s hard to forget March 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in New York City, and offices and businesses closed overnight. Soon the city was paralyzed, becoming the nation’s epicenter.
The first snapshot of the Coronavirus’ racial and ethnic impact, released by city officials in early April of 2020, showed a significant over-representation of Blacks and Latinos among the fatalities, with both groups comprising a larger share of the dead than they do of the New York City population.
The city has been publishing and updating COVID death rates by race and ethnicity since then, computing the number of deaths for every 100,000 people in a given group, but without providing the overall number of deaths by race/ethnicity by date.
Through Freedom of Information Law requests, City Limits obtained data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for weekly COVID-19 deaths from March 2020 to the end of July of 2022, offering a breakdown of fatalities by race/ethnicity for each week (the dataset accounts for approximately 94 percent of recorded deaths in the city so far).
The most lethal time of the pandemic for all New Yorkers was the week of April 11, 2020, when the highest number of deaths was recorded, but it was especially acute for Latino and Black residents: 1,650 and 1,534 died, respectively.
Data shows that during the first five months of the pandemic, from mid-March to August 2020, 7,128 Latino residents died from COVID, exceeding by more than 2,800 the number of deaths during the next 22 months from September 2020 to July 2022, when the city lost 4,309 Latino residents to the virus.
A similar trend is seen among Black New Yorkers, for whom the first wave was more lethal than the subsequent 22 months of the pandemic, with 6,655 deaths during the first five months of the crisis compared to 4,265 from September 2020 through this past July. The disproportionate impact of the first wave was most dramatic among these two groups.
Comparatively, deaths among white and Asian American/Pacific Islander residents were more even across the two periods City Limits examined data for: There were 5,968 deaths among white residents during the first five months of the pandemic vs 6,069 deaths in the subsequent 22 months and 1,814 deaths among Asian/Pacific Islanders in the first wave, versus 1,907 deaths in the months after.
As of Oct. 13, the virus has killed 42,125 New Yorkers. To date, when factoring in population size, COVID-19 has killed Latino and Black residents at the highest rates, followed by white and Asian American New Yorkers, Health Department data shows. “Differences in health outcomes among racial and ethnic groups are due to long-term structural racism not biological or personal traits,” the Department said as part of the response to City Limits’ data request.
The data set includes both confirmed COVID-19 deaths (classified as such after a positive result from a molecular test), probable COVID-19 deaths (when the cause of death on the death certificate is COVID-19 or similar, but without a positive molecular test on record), and deaths of residents of congregate settings (long-term care facilities and correctional facilities). Racial and ethnic groups that saw four or fewer deaths on a given week were not included in the dataset to protect patient confidentiality, the Health Department notes.
Each bar in the graph below represents data for the full week noted. Click here for a visualization of COVID death data for the next 22 months, from September 2020 to July 2022.