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Lesson Plans

How COVID disproportionately affects people of color

May 15, 2020

Full Lesson




Directions: Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. The video has been edited for length. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.


Summary: As scientists and doctors struggle to find a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, racial and economic disparities are making the impact worse for some groups. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. patients were black — even though African Americans make up only about 13 percent of the general population. The share of cases among Latinos is also disproportionately large. This story examines significant racial disparities that exist in our society and how they affect the pandemic’s toll. Real people and doctors discuss the complicated social and political intersections the pandemic has brought to light.


Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: Why are communities of color disproportionately affected by COVID-19?
  2. What public policy questions has the pandemic raised?
  3. How should the president respond to the problem? What does the story say about President Donald Trump’s reaction to COVID affecting more people of color?
  4. What are some aspects of your life that you may have taken for granted before and during the pandemic?
  5. Media literacy: Check out at least three other news outlets to see how they are reporting the issue of how coronavirus affects communities of color. What are the headlines? Who is interviewed? Are statistics and data used?


Extension activity: Flint water crisis and the coronavirus pandemic

One of the easiest ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus is handwashing. But in some places, such as Flint, Michigan, that simple task is more difficult due to the lack of clean running water. John Yang talks to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped expose that emergency in 2014, about how the pandemic is hitting the city. Click here for the transcript.

Ask your students:

  1. Why does Dr. Hanna-Attisha say the Flint water crisis has worsened the coronavirus pandemic in her city?
  2. How might racism affect how government responds to a public health crisis?
  3. Can you think of other examples in which the U.S. government was slow to respond to a crisis that highlighted differences in race or low socio-economic status? Why is strong infrastructure (roads, bridges, utilities) a key part of a community’s well-being?



Today’s Daily News Story was written by Yareni Murillo, a senior at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, with editing by EXTRA’s Victoria Pasquantonio.


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