July 2, 2020
Beyond Age, Race & Income: Sociodemographic Factors to Track During COVID-19
By: Diverse Elders

by Elana Kieffer. This article originally appeared on the NCOA blog.

New York City has been the American city hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not all New Yorkers are equally at risk; age has been a serious risk factor, and nearly 75% of New Yorkers who have died from COVID-19 were 65 and over. Race and class also influence infection and mortality rates: Black and Latino city residents have died from COVID-19 at twice the rate of White or Asian New Yorkers, and the ZIP codes in the bottom 25% of average incomes represent 36% of all cases of the disease, while the wealthiest 25% account for under 10%.

Nearly half of the 1.2 million adults 65 and over in NYC are Black or Latino, and more than one-third of older New Yorkers have an annual household income of less than $50,000. This means that older New Yorkers are particularly vulnerable to the virus, and for most of them, the safest solution is to stay home. Yet this mandate brings its own set of challenges for many subpopulations:

The 2020 Census is currently collecting data on every American that will inform federal funding, community planning, and legislative representation for the next ten years. Similarly, we must ensure that we collect and utilize a wide range of data on our clients, including household composition and internet access, to inform a comprehensive outreach and resource allocation strategy during this crisis. Otherwise, inequality among older adults will continue to grow long after the pandemic has subsided.



Elana Kieffer is the Program Officer for Healthy Aging at The New York Academy of Medicine. She has nearly 15 years of experience working in a wide range of older adult services, with a focus on project management, program development, and sales and marketing. Elana has an MBA in nonprofit management with a concentration in aging services from the Heller School at Brandeis University.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.