Why African Americans are dying at higher rates from COVID-19
WASHINGTON, United States — The new coronavirus isn’t biased about who it infects — so why does data emerging from some states suggest that African Americans are bearing the brunt of the pandemic in the US?
Experts say blacks are disproportionately impacted by underlying health conditions linked to poverty, face discrimination in medical care, and are more likely to work jobs that require them to leave their home.
“We know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease,” the nation’s top doctor, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CBS News on Tuesday.
These chronic illnesses, which are in turn linked to poverty and structural racism, can lead to more serious forms of the COVID-19 disease.
Adams, who is himself black and has high blood pressure and asthma, added: “I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America.
“And I, and many black Americans, are at higher risk for COVID.”
There is no nationwide data available on COVID-19 cases by race, but a pattern of over-representation by black Americans has emerged in states or jurisdictions that are sharing the numbers.
Sixty-eight percent of coronavirus deaths in Chicago have been among African Americans, who make up just 30 percent of the city’s population.
“Those numbers take your breath away,” the city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday at a coronavirus briefing. “This is a call to action for all of us.”
The trend is repeated in North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and the capital Washington.
Doctor Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told AFP the issue was also linked to social class, with black people more likely to work jobs deemed essential that expose them to potential infection.
“That population is more public facing,” he said. “More bus drivers, more people taking public transportation to work, more people providing services in nursing homes, more folks working in grocery stores.”
The problem is compounded by implicit and explicit bias that African Americans face in the medical system.
Doctor James Hildreth, president of the historically black Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee told AFP that in his city, most of the initial testing took place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Most of the patients who go to hospital systems like these have insurance, and it was only recently that three assessment centers run by the city of Nashville were built for the underprivileged and minority communities — one of them located at Meharry’s campus and run by its staff.
“My point is, depending on which community you live in, and whether or not you have insurance… the chances for getting assessed are much less,” he said.
What’s more, it’s well documented that when black people seek care, they are less likely to have their symptoms believed or get adequately treated, Doctor Ebony Hilton, an anesthesiologist at the University of Virginia Medical Center told AFP.
For example, black women are less likely to have their breast cancer mammograms seen by a specialist as opposed to a general radiologist, according to a 2015 Duke University study.
Black heart patients who present with elevated levels of a group of proteins indicating cardiac injury are also less likely to be seen by specialists, per a 2018 study.
A civil rights group wrote this week to the US health secretary, Alex Azar, calling on him to “release daily racial and ethnic demographic data related to COVID-19 testing, disease burden and patient outcomes.”
This, said the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was necessary to ensure a robust public health response, and to make certain care and testing aren’t being administered in a discriminatory manner.
The group said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC was already collecting the information but deliberately withholding it.
Hilton stressed that it was in the interests of Americans as a whole to address the problem, because — unlikehigh rates of heart disease or cancer —a wave of coronavirus spreading through the black and Hispanic population will ultimately impact everyone else.
“When you have a system that’s not treating these people of lower social economic status and these minority groups, they are then not being tested, they’re sent back home to infect their community,” she said.
“Those workers who are now infected are going to the grocery store, and when the upper echelon of America are going to get their food, they will get infected too.”
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 8, 2020 – 7:09pm
Follow this page for updates on amysteriouspneumoniaoutbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.
April 8, 2020 – 7:09pm
The World Health Organization’s European office saysthat despite seeing “positive signs” from some countries, it was too early to scale back measures aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus.
“Now is not the time to relax measures. It is the time to once again double and triple our collective efforts to drive towards suppression with the whole support of society,” WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, says.?— AFP
April 8, 2020 – 4:08pm
The Department of Health reports 106 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to3,870.
There are 23 new recoveries and five new fatalities, the DOH adds.
April 8, 2020 – 3:32pm
Voicing joy and excitement from behind face masks, tens of thousands of people fled Wuhan on Wednesday after a 76-day travel ban was lifted on the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged.
Previously quiet train and bus stations bustled as an exodus began from the city of 11 million, with some passengers wearing hazmat suits.
Hao Mei, a single parent from the nearby city of Enshi, said her two children had been home alone since she got stuck in Wuhan, where she works in a school kitchen.
“You have no idea! I was already up around 4 am. I felt so good. My kids are so excited. Mum is finally coming home,” the 39-year-old told AFP as she waited to board a train.
“At the start of the lockdown, I cried every night. I was really miserable, because my little girl is still young, she’s only 10.”
Up to 55,000 people are expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday just by train, according to government estimates. — AFP
April 8, 2020 – 12:14pm
The National Telecommunications Commission and United Nations Children’s Fund joinhands with the telecommunications to ensureparents and children’s security both online and offline amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon UNICEF’s request, the NTC extendsits support in spreading information to alleviate the situation. The telecommunications sector is sending out text blasts encouraging subscribers to visit unicef.ph and saferkidsph.org for information and tips on how to support parents and children in managing the impact of COVID-19.
April 8, 2020 – 8:02am
US President Donald Trumpthreatensto put a “hold” on funds to the World Health Organization, accusing it of bias toward China and performing badly in the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump tellshe was “going to put a very powerful hold on” the WHO, the UN body whose biggest funding source is the United States. He gave no details about how much money would be withheld or when. —AFP