African-Americans and Coronavirus

As Coronavirus continues to affect the lives of every person in this country in some way, shape or form, recently released data by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) is showing some disturbing trends amongst African-Americans and Coronavirus.

Sounding the Alarm

What the data collected over the last month reveals is the racial disparity amongst African-Americans and Coronavirus.  Roughly 1 of every 3 people who contract Coronavirus and require hospitalization are African- American and although they make up 33% of those hospitalized, they only make up 13% of the overall US population.  Conversely, white people, who make up 76% of the US population, only account for 45% of the hospitalizations for Covid-19.  With Hispanics, the numbers are similar.  They make up 8% of the hospitalizations for Coronavirus while accounting for 18% of the overall population.  What this all equates to is that African-Americans are dying from Coronavirus at a sobering rate of 7 times that of white people.

What the Medical Experts Are Saying

In responding to the evidence showing racial disparity at a recent White House Coronavirus task force meeting, Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health stated the disproportionate death rate amongst African-Americans reminded him of how the HIV/AIDS epidemic largely impacted gay people.  He continued by saying that overall health disparities have always existed amongst African-Americans, which is why they are suffering disproportionately in a pandemic like Coronavirus.

I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Dr. Karol Watson, MD, Ph.D., and Professor of Medicine/Cardiology UCLA, Co-director, UCLA Program in Preventive Cardiology, former national Vice President of the Association of Black Cardiologist, and American College of Cardiology, Cardiologist of the Year, CA.  Dr. Watson echoed sentiments similar to those of Dr. Fauci in saying “it’s no surprise African-Americans are more vulnerable to the effects of Coronavirus as they are more vulnerable to almost everything”.  She went on to say that “income, education, and opportunity really does explain almost everything in life”.

Other Reasons for the Disparity

Another reason to consider the overall infection rate amongst African-Americans and Coronavirus is the occupations they hold.  Many African-Americans hold service-related jobs such as retail, delivery, postal, custodial, and various positions within hospitals themselves, which are all deemed essential.  This means they have to report to work every day while the majority of the country has been mandated to shelter in place.   There is also the misinformation being shared within the black communities as to the actual threat of Covid-19.  This is due to a lack of overall trust in the government and what they are saying, along with assuming hearsay and unvetted data as being fact.

What You Can Do

In the end, the most important thing we can do as African-Americans is to stay healthy through this pandemic.  This includes following the basic recommendations of the top health officials in washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, avoid touching your mouth and eyes, practice social distancing in keeping at least six feet from other people, and sheltering in place whenever possible.

African-American and Coronavirus-Our Hope for Tomorrow

It is my hope that when we as a country finally start to get ahead of this virus by coming up with a vaccine, we’ll begin to see things return to normal.  When that happens, we’ll need to hold our elected officials accountable to allocating both the time and money needed, to address the root problems behind the many disparities that have plagued African-Americans for generations.