New data released by Boston officials Thursday suggests that African-American and Latino residents have contracted the COVID-19 virus at substantially higher rates than whites.
City officials cautioned that the data does not give a full picture of COVID-19 infections by race in Boston.
The numbers represent about 1,500 known COVID-19 cases in the city for which race or ethnicity was available. That information was missing for another roughly 1,000 cases.
Of those, African-Americans represented 40% of known cases, despite representing about one quarter of Boston residents.
Whites, by contrast, make up roughly half of Boston’s population but represented about 28% of known cases.
Latinos, about 20% of residents, made up 14% of known cases.
The numbers came as state officials released more data suggesting disparate impacts from the novel coronavirus in communities around Massachusetts. But a clear picture is not available yet, as many municipalities still do not collect racial or ethnic data in COVID-19 cases.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also cautioned that the numbers, for many reasons, might not yet represent a full picture of infections among the capital's major ethnic or racial groups.
But, he said, the numbers the city has so far were alarming.
“With all the reports of the coronavirus hitting people of color harder in places all over the country, this is certainly disturbing,” Walsh said. “We'll be taking a hard look at the numbers in Boston to understand and address all the inequities that exist.”
Walsh said he's convened a Health Inequities Task force to examine the issue.
“We have long been committed to eliminating the injustices that make some groups more vulnerable to poor health and others,” Walsh said. “Equity is at the core of health policy in our city.”