Covid & Black Community
COVID19 in African American and Other People of Color
According to John Hopkins Medicine, the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact all over the world, but a disturbing trend is evident in the U.S. People of color, particularly African Americans, are experiencing more serious illness and death due to COVID-19 than white people.
Our goal will be to educate, inform and lead people to the vast COVID19 resources made available by our local and federal government.
Disproportionate Rates of
COVID-19 Illness and Death
in Black Communities
According to media reports, in Chicago, where African Americans Comprise a third of the city’s population, they account for half of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and almost three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths.
Likewise, in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, African Americans make up 70% of deaths due to the coronavirus, but just 26% of the County’s population.
According to partial data released by the California State Health Department, African-Americans and blacks – who make up six percent of California’s population – account for seven percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 11 percent of the deaths of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Coronavirus Risk Factors and People of Color
Living in Crowded Housing Conditions
“Crowded living conditions are a difficult challenge that is the result of longstanding racial residential segregation and prior redlining policies,” reported John Hopkins’ experts. “It is difficult for 10 individuals living in a three-room apartment to appropriately social distance.” The experts stated that advocacy on these broader policy issues could help prevent future disparities in disease outcomes.
Working in Essential Fields
John Hopkins’ Medicine experts noted that people working in environmental services, food services, the transportation sector and home health care cannot work from home. These positions put workers in close contact with others.
Inconsistent Access to Health Care
Due to lack of insurance or underinsurance. Being able to afford doctors’ visits, medications and equipment to manage chronic disease is essential to lowering the risk of death from COVID-19 and other conditions. For instance, a patient with badly controlled diabetes or asthma due to inconsistent treatment is more at risk for severe, even deadly, coronavirus infection.
Chronic Health Conditions
John Hopkins’ Medicine experts pointed out that people of color have a higher burden of chronic health conditions associated with a poor outcome from COVID-19, including diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. In a study cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of those hospitalized with severe COVID-19 had at least one of these underlying medical conditions.
Stress & Immunity
Studies have proved that stress has a physiological effect on the body’s ability to defend itself against disease. Income inequality, discrimination, violence and institutional racism contribute to chronic stress in people of color that can wear down immunity, making them more vulnerable to infectious disease.
How to Fight Racial Disparity in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Instituting fair housing policies, improving employment opportunities and taking other steps to mitigate economic inequality will benefit people of color in the next health emergency, but John Hopkins Medicine experts say there are ways to reduce sickness and mortality in vulnerable populations right now.
“Because there is currently not a vaccine or anti-viral treatment for COVID-19, social distancing, hand-washing and wearing masks are crucial public health interventions to prevent the spread of the disease to these vulnerable populations…”
Per the experts, “We need to use some novel approaches to promoting social distancing messages through social media campaigns. Social distancing messages should be translated into multiple languages in a culturally sensitive manner, and at a literacy level that allows all at risk to understand the information
John Hopkin’s Medicine experts added that messaging should address and discourage the stigma associated with COVID-19, which she says prevents symptomatic people from seeking medical attention until they are dangerously ill.