A new report from the United Hospital Fund and Boston Consulting Group found that Black children in New York are facing the brunt of the state’s high COVID-19 death toll.

The study looked at the death toll between March and July, discovering that 4,200 children in New York State lost a parent to COVID-19 and another 325,000 children were part of families that have been pushed into poverty because of the economic calamity that resulted from the pandemic. 

But when researchers drilled down into the numbers, they saw that the numbers for Black children stood out. 

“There are wide racial/ethnic disparities in the rate of parental/caregiver deaths from COVID-19 due to vast structural inequities that led to communities of color disproportionately being exposed to the virus,” the report said.

“Black and Hispanic children were disproportionately burdened, with 1 per 600 Black children and 1 per 700 Hispanic children affected, compared to 1 per 1,400 Asian children and 1 per 1,500 white children,” the report added.

Overall, one out of every 1,000 children in New York suffered a parental or caregiver deaths from COVID-19, but 57% of these deaths occurred in three New York City boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

The numbers align with COVID-19 death toll figures which show the boroughs with the largest number of Black people suffered the most from the pandemic yet were some of the last to receive widespread testing and more healthcare funding at the height of New York’s battle against the virus.

“This pandemic is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The closest comparison in the state would be 9/11, when more than 3,000 children lost a parent,” Suzanne Brundage, co-author of the report, said in a statement.

“Losing a parent or caregiver during childhood raises a child’s risk of developing a range of poor outcomes over their lifetime, including poorer mental and physical health,” she added.

The report said nearly 50% of the children who lost a parent or caregiver due to COVID-19 are in danger of entering poverty and almost 25% are at risk of entering foster care.

In addition to the loss of life, the economic impact of the pandemic was also having a harsh effect on Black families. During the pandemic, more than one million children had at least one parent lose their job. Of them, 325,000 were a part of families that are living below 200% of the federal poverty level. 

New York subregions with large Black populations like Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier topped the study’s list of places with the highest numbers of children that are part of families being pushed into poverty. 

More than 10,000 children in both Westchester and Monroe county are facing poverty as well. 

“As New Yorkers determine how to respond to the pandemic during a precarious city and state budget situation, it is critical not to lose sight of its immediate and long-term effects on child poverty, mental health, and overall well-being,” said United Hospital Fund president Dr. Anthony Shih.

The study includes recommendations for the state in terms of what will be necessary to address the problems created by the pandemic. The researchers behind the report estimate that about $800 million will be needed to cover housing, food, health insurance and remote learning for children in New York. 

While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been praised nationally for his work in stopping the virus’ spread after New York City was one of the first places in the country to see extraordinarily high number of deaths. 

Cuomo has also faced withering criticism internally, particularly from Black lawmakers who are livid about what happened during the pandemic.

It took Cuomo and city officials until May to finally begin testing widely in public housing, even as hospitals in Black neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens were alarmingly overwhelmed at the height of the pandemic, according to The New York Times.  

“There was a lost opportunity at the beginning and sadly we missed a lot at all levels of government. It wasn’t just from President Donald Trump, who has obviously been a colossal failure. We saw failures on the city and state level. They didn’t act quick enough or bold enough and didn’t change and adapt as the information came in,” Jumaane Williams, a New York City Public Advocate, told The Haitian Times in May.

“When you look at who are the nurses, assistants, sanitations workers and who works in the grocery stores, it becomes clear. It’s disheartening to see that two thirds of the zip codes that were being tested were all in white and wealthier communities while the vast majority of people who are hit the hardest were in Black and Brown communities,” he added.

Black lawmakers in New York were furious when Cuomo decided to create hospital overflow facilities in Manhattan even as the borough saw few hospitalizations and deaths, all while the other boroughs suffered for weeks before any attention was given to them, according to city data. 

Cuomo admitted that the COVID-19 infection and death numbers for Black New Yorkers were high because a disproportionate number of them were essential workers serving in roles at hospitals, restaurants and delivery services. 

But his government was slow to provide protective equipment to those working in essential roles and did not divert away the resources devoted to Manhattan until the worst of the pandemic was already over.

“We failed certain communities, we just simply failed them. We had no plan for the most vulnerable in our city. We then told the most vulnerable Black and brown communities that they have to go to work to keep the city moving, essentially saying ‘You’re expendable for the real residents of the city,’” Williams added. 

“Seventy-five percent of essential workers are Black and brown. We had a policy for one group of New Yorkers that said stay home and telecommute if you can. And then we told another group that they have to go to work with no personal protective equipment and a large portion of them were Black and brown. A large portion were Caribbean and within that subset, a large portion were Haitian,” Williams said.