Black Americans face higher rates of coronavirus deaths


AT first, COVID-19 did not seem to discriminate in the United States (U.S.).

But in the last few weeks, there is a notable shift: Fewer white people have showed up at hospitals, while there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of black and brown patients.

The available data of the race of coronavirus victims – released by only a handful of states – bear out that observation, revealing a stark disparity between white and black residents.

The black and brown patients are lower-income service workers and essential workers – delivery drivers, police officers, subway workers, corrections officers – who do not have the luxury of working from home or retreating to a second home in a less dense community.

In Michigan, black people have died at more than eight times the rate of white people.

In Illinois, they have died at nearly six times the rate. In Louisiana, the difference is five-fold.

Public health experts said those figures reflected deep-rooted social and economic inequalities.

Not only are black Americans less likely to be insured and able to afford testing, but they are more likely to have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease that could put them at higher risk for severe illness.

They are 60 per cent more likely than white Americans to be diagnosed with diabetes and 40 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure, according to the U.S. government.

“This virus is treading a glide path that unfortunately our society has paved through structural racism and poverty. It is finding its way into our most vulnerable communities, who in our country tend to be disproportionately black and brown,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former director of the Detroit Health Department.

The problem is compounded by the fact that many of the most vulnerable people work in service jobs that increase their risk of being exposed to the virus.

Fewer than 20 per cent of black workers are able to work from home compared with about one-third of their white counterparts, according to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

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