African Americans dying from the coronavirus at a much higher rate than the US population

As the COVID-19 death tolls mount across the U.S., researchers are beginning to investigate and track the death rates among minority groups. It appears that COVID-19 is not an equal opportunity threat to our public health. COVID-19 has shown the inequities communities across the country are facing in terms of available medical testing, access, and preparedness. 

Dr. Camara Jones, a family physician, epidemiologist, and fellow at Harvard University, spent 13 years at the CDC studying racial bias in the medical system. She said, “COVID is just unmasking the deep disinvestment in our communities, the historical injustices and the impact of residential segregation.” Racial bias in our medical system leads to  “the same reasons that African Americans have disproportionately high rates of maternal death, low levels of access to medical care, and higher rates of asthma.” Source: Health Leaders Media

It is also alarming that “even when Black patients seek care for their COVID-19 symptoms, they will likely receive worse care than other patients since it’s more likely they will seek care at minority-serving hospitals, which have been shown to provide lower quality care and are beset with a shortage of critical care physicians, personal protective equipment and ventilators..” Source: Scientific American

Currently, the CDC is not tracking the race and ethnicity of COVID-19 patients, but a few states are. For instance, data from Wisconsin is showing an alarming rate of infection within the African American communities in Milwaukee. As of April 3rd, African Americans made up almost half of the 945 reported cases in Milwaukee County, and 81% of the 27 deaths. These statistics are significant because African Americans make up only 26% of the population. Source: Health Leaders Media 

Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina are other states also compiling these statistics. Hot spots, such as New Orleans, where 70% of the COVID deaths are African Americans, demonstrate the disproportionate cases amongst the African American communities where they are a minority of the population. Source: Newsweek

The loss of life to the communities is devastating. We are losing not only family members and friends, but also community leaders, artists, supporters, and more. Among the African American victims are:

  • Nat Burley, aged 79, was the Flint Community Schools’  first black superintendent and helped head desegregation efforts for Grand Rapids Community Schools. He worked tirelessly for inner-city kids and his community. He passed away on April 6th, after being hospitalized since March 20th. Source: M Live
  • Oliver Stokes Jr., aged 44, was a well known DJ and radio show personality in New Orleans. He was married with four children. He passed away on March 19th after developing symptoms on March 9th. Source: People
  • Wallace Roney, aged 59, was a Grammy-winning trumpeter renowned for his interpretations of Miles Davis’ jazz compositions. He died on April 1st in New Jersey. Source: New York Post
  • Marlowe Stoudamire, aged 43, was a Detroit community leader and business strategist. His family said he had no underlying health conditions but he passed away on March 24th. Source: Afro      

As many scientists and researchers continue to say, you cannot catch the coronavirus if it cannot find you. Stay home and don’t risk your life by attending or hosting large gatherings. Second, clean and disinfect on a regular basis. Lastly, remember these best practices in mind to avoid contracting COVID-19.

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