Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

How COVID-19 is Disproportionately Affecting Black People

Counties that have a majority of black people have three times the average rate of infection and six times the rate of deaths, compared to majority white counties. Contrary to popular belief, there is no racial genetic predisposition that makes black people susceptible to COVID-19. However, there are higher rates of underlying health conditions in black Americans. They are also more likely to have less access to health care. Current health issues are already impacting black people at a higher rate which puts them at a higher risk for catching COVID-19.  Data shows that black people are more likely to have lung disease, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.Along with that, studies have shown bias in healthcare workers towards white patients over black patients. 

We do not currently have enough data from the government to draw a big conclusion (on April 7th President Trump acknowledged disparities and reported that he was working with federal authorities to provide statistics to help examine the issue). However, data from counties and states shows us the racial differences in infection and death rates. For example, according to npr.org, the governor of Louisiana has announced that 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana have been black Americans, even though black people only make up 32% of Louisiana’s population. In Michigan, African Americans make up 44% of COVID-19 deaths, but only make up 14% of the population. This could be seen as a divide between those living in rural and urban places, but in Chicago (a highly populated state), black people make up 68% of deaths, even though only 30% of Chicago’s population is black. 

Scientists and journalists all over the United States are reporting on COVID-19 statistics showing Black Americans being infected and dying at a disproportionately higher rate than white Americans. Similar to how HIV put a spotlight on discrimination and health care availability for gay people, the coronavirus has brought attention to  the disparities in resources, health, and access to care for African Americans in 2020.

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