Women, people of color bear brunt of COVID-19’s economic toll

Published 6:54 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The economic toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately harming women and people of color.

About 14 percent of Minnesota’s workforce — nearly 452,000 people — has applied for unemployment in recent weeks, according to Steve Grove, the state’s employment and economic development commissioner.

Nearly 26 percent of the nonwhite labor force is seeking unemployment help. And 55 percent of total applicants are women. About 12 percent of the white labor force is applying for unemployment.

Email newsletter signup

“The scope and scale of this is stunning,” Grove said.

The new information on economic disparities came Tuesday as the death toll increased to 79 and 20 more people were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19.

The latest coronavirus statistics:

  • 1,695 cases via 39,241 tests
  • 79 deaths
  • 405 cases requiring hospitalization
  • 177 people remain in the hospital; 75 in intensive care units
  • 13 percent of cases in health care workers
  • 909 patients recovered

Martin County continues to have the most severe outbreak relative to population. It’s population is 19,785, yet it has seen 39 cases and four deaths from COVID-19. Wilkin County, a tiny region south of Moorhead, Minn., on the North Dakota border, comes in second. It has seven cases and two deaths — with just 6,254 residents.

Walz has signaled the state planned to move into a more aggressive posture to test for COVID-19 and trace and isolate those infected as part of the next phase of reopening parts of the economy.

Minnesota has tested nearly 40,000 people for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. But before the state begins returning to normal, Walz said he was aiming for some 5,000 tests per day or 40,000 a week. Walz said he was pushing to get the more aggressive testing regimen ramped up by May 4, when his current stay-at-home order is set to expire.

Walz acknowledged the growing frustration of Minnesotans over the need to stay out of most public spaces to check the disease. He said he was sick of it, too, but that it was still necessary. “I wish could say it’s magically over … but that will kill people.”