Black and brown communities across the United States are more likely to die from COVID-19, according to early data, which also highlights the longstanding disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care.
The numbers are particularly alarming in cities with large African American populations like Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit and Milwaukee, which are becoming hotspots for the coronavirus.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that more than half of Chicagoans who have died from COVID-19 are African Americans.
‘We are all in this crisis together but we are not all experiencing this crisis in the same way,’ Lightfoot said Monday.
Black residents in Chicago accounted for 72 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 complications and 52 per cent of positive tests for the coronavirus, despite making up only 30 per cent of the city’s population, according to the city’s public health agency.
Black and brown communities across the United States are more likely to die from COVID-19, according to early data, which also highlights the longstanding disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care. Commuters in Milwaukee on March 31
The numbers are particularly alarming in cities with large African American populations like Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit and Milwaukee. New York City (resident pictured Sunday) hasn’t released such data
Data shows that in the entire state of Illinois, black people make up about 30 per cent of the state’s cases and about 40 per cent of its coronavirus-related deaths, according to statistics provided by the state’s public health agency.
However, African Americans make up just 14.6 per cent of the state’s population.
In Michigan, black people account for 40 per cent of the state’s reported deaths, according to data released by the state, but its population is only 14 per cent African American.
Many US states, including hardest-hit New York, have not released demographic data showing the virus’ toll on different racial groups.
But according to an op-ed published in The Atlantic by Ibram X. Kendi, the director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, there are some indications that communities of color may be particularly affected.
Kendi said he analyzed data released from The New York Times on the number of coronavirus cases per 1,000 people for every zip code in the Big Apple.
‘Queens zip code 11370 has the city’s highest rate of confirmed infections, with 12 cases per 1,000 people; the neighborhoods it includes are 37 per cent Latino, 25 per cent white, 22 per cent Asian, and 14 per cent black,’ Kendi wrote.
‘In the adjacent zip code of 11369, which has the city’s second-highest rate of confirmed infections with 10 cases per 1,000 people, the population is 64 per cent Latino, 15 per cent black, 12 per cent Asian, and 8 per cent white.
According to census data, New York City is 32.1 per cent white, 29.1 per cent Latino, 24.3 per cent black, and 13.9 per cent Asian.
‘But averaging out the racial composition of the five New York City zip codes with the highest coronavirus rates shows a significant overrepresentation of Latinos 45.8 per cent and Asians 23.4 per cent, and a significant underrepresentation of whites 21.2 per cent and blacks 8 per cent when compared with their citywide populations,’ Kendi wrote.
Detroit, which is about 80 per cent black, has recorded 5,032 confirmed cases with 196 people dead from complications due to the COVID-19 virus
He then posed the question about whether these numbers mean that Latinos and Asians are being infected with, and dying from, COVID-19 at higher rates than other New Yorkers.
‘We don’t know for certain, but it sure seems that way,’ Kendi said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has not publicly reported data on the race and ethnicities of patients tested for COVID-19, the deadly respiratory illness.
‘Because we don’t have broad access to testing, we don’t actually know how many people are infected in the US,’ said Dr Jeffrey Levi, a professor of public health at The George Washington University.
‘We only have accurate data on who is actually getting hospitalized.’
In a letter sent late last month, a group of Democratic lawmakers including Sen Elizabeth Warren and Sen Kamala Harris urged Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to ensure such data is collected and published.
The World Health Organization has said people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and other chronic lung disorders, diabetes and heart disease appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
That makes the virus particularly dangerous for African Americans, who because of environmental and economic factors have higher rates of those illnesses, said Dr Summer Johnson McGee, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven.
McGee said she was not surprised the US black population is experiencing a worse outcome during the pandemic.
She explained that racism has led to a lack of investment in African American communities and worse health care for the population in general.
‘A pandemic just magnifies the disparities in healthcare that many communities of color face,’ she said.
Confirmed US coronavirus cases neared 350,000, with more than 11,000 deaths, on Monday.
The US has by far the most known COVID-19 cases with nearly twice as many as Spain and in Italy, but fewer deaths than in the two hardest-hit European nations.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledges aggressive public health campaign after data showed 72% of African American residents were among people to die of coronavirus
Lightfoot pledged an aggressive public health campaign aimed at the city’s black and brown communities Monday amid alarm that 72 per cent of African American residents were among the people to die of COVID-19 in early data.
Public health experts in Chicago said the trend was unsurprising to anyone familiar with decades-old barriers to health care in the geographically divided city; residents of the city’s South and West sides historically have poorer access to health care, higher poverty rates and jobs that require them to keep showing up while others are able to work from home.
Lightfoot said the disparities in Chicago ‘take your breath away’ and required an immediate response from the city, community activists and healthcare providers.
A new team of city and community representatives will focus on contacting residents who are older than 50 and those considered vulnerable to the virus because of other health conditions to share information about prevention and resources for those who do become ill.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the ‘We Are Not Playing’ campaign during a press conference at Soldier Field, Monday morning. The city is launching a health campaign focused on the city’s black and brown communities
This graphic shows the COVID-19 case characteristics for Chicago residents. More than 50 per cent of cases are from the black community
The city’s transit system will increase monitoring on its buses and add vehicles to lines still being heavily used, and city inspectors will visit grocery or corner stores to enforce social distancing limits there too, she said.
‘We can’t simply stand by and let this disease wreak havoc in our communities,’ Lightfoot said. ‘Lives are truly at stake.’
The city’s public health commissioner also ordered all healthcare providers in the city to collect data on COVID-19 patients’ race and ethnicity, seeking to address existing gaps. The department’s leader, Dr Allison Arwady, said one-quarter of testing results sent to her agency so far have not included that critical information.
A national civil rights group on Monday said that’s a problem across the country and demanded more transparency on race and ethnicity among the COVID-19 testing results, cases and patient outcomes reported by federal health authorities and state health agencies.
‘Equal access to healthcare is a critical civil rights issue, and during this novel pandemic, the public deserves nothing less than full transparency from this administration and state public health officials,’ Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Lawyers´ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.
Gov J.B. Pritzker told reporters at his daily COVID-19 briefing that the state is responding to the disease’s impact on minorities by ‘reopening hospitals that are in those communities’ and by targeting ‘directly into the African American community’ social media messages promoting social-distancing.
Pritzker was apparently referencing temporarily using three shuttered hospitals in suburban Chicago for bed space, a project he never before linked to any racial demographic and he did not elaborate on how is administration was targeting the community with virus-prevention messages.
In the United States, there are more than 368,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 11,000 deaths
The plan announced in Chicago followed a report by WBEZ Chicago highlighting the disproportionate number of black residents among those who have died of COVID-19 complications in the city.
Lightfoot noted that unequal access to health care in Chicago´s black and brown communities has persisted for decades. Medical conditions including diabetes and heart disease also remain more prevalent among black adults in the US.
Rev Marshall Hatch, pastor of a Baptist church on Chicago’s West Side, said he wanted to offer a ‘human face’ to the maps and charts surrounding him at Monday’s news conference.
Within the last week, Hatch said he lost his oldest sister, a friend of 45 years and a parishioner to complications of COVID-19.
‘Poverty is not just about quality of life,’ he said. ‘It is about literally life and death.’
Detroit, which is about 80 per cent black, has recorded 5,032 confirmed cases with 196 people dead from complications due to the COVID-19 virus.
Coronavirus data specific to black residents was not available from the city, but Detroit and its surrounding suburbs account for about 80 per cent of the state’s confirmed cases.
‘It’s clear that what COVID-19 is doing is exacerbating the racial disparity in health in this country,’ said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who led the Detroit Medical Center before taking office.
White residents account for about 23 per cent of the confirmed cases in Michigan, and 28 per cent of the deaths, according to state health officials.
The race of about 38 per cent of the confirmed cases and 26 per cent of the deaths in Michigan were not known.
‘Part of what we´re seeing in Detroit is that there’s such a high number of individuals who have those underlying conditions, who have the diabetes and the heart disease, who may have obesity,’ Dr Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive who previously led Detroit´s health department, said earlier this month.