As Scott pointed out earlier today, Washington, D.C. is among the jurisdictions that will now require vaccination cards to enter restaurants, bars, and other public places. In D.C., the requirement is for proof of having received one dose or more of a covid vaccine.
Scott alluded to the disparate impact this requirement will have on Blacks. In D.C., the disproportionately adverse impact on Blacks will be pronounced.
According to this source from last month, the District’s African-American residents have the lowest vaccination rates of any racial group in the city. According to this source, as of January 10, 2022 the percentage of D.C. Blacks who have received a dose or more of a covid vaccine is only 52 percent, compared to 66 percent of Whites, 73 percent of Hispanics, and 93 percent of Asians.
Black D.C. residents have the lowest rates of vaccination (one dose or more) across all age groups. The reported rates are extremely low among younger Blacks — 25 percent in the 18-24 category (compared to 36 percent for Whites and 54 percent for Asians) and 35 percent for ages 24-39 (compared to 43 percent of Whites and 50 percent of Asians).
Customers in D.C. bars fall mostly in these two age groups. If D.C. enforces its rule, around 70 percent of the Blacks most likely to visit a bar will be unable to do so — a significantly higher exclusion rate than for Whites and a vastly higher exclusion rate than for Asians.
For some who advance “equity” theory, this makes D.C.’s vax card requirement racist, pure and simple, no matter what rationale the city might set forth to justify it. For less extreme proponents, it might be possible, at least in theory, to justify the requirement on health emergency grounds.
But if one is serious about equity, the burden must be on the city to establish its justification with unambiguous, reliable, and well-tailored data. The city would have to document the extent, if any, to which having received one vaccine dose at any time in the past year meaningfully reduces the likelihood of infection from the prevailing covid variant in the coming months. Beyond that, it would have to present unambiguous, reliable, and well-tailored data showing that the requirement will appreciably reduce the spread of the virus in each category of public place to which it applies.
A mere expectation based on the say-so of experts shouldn’t be enough to justify a rule that comes down disproportionately hard on Blacks — not for the “equity” crowd, if it has any desire to be consistent.