While the full scope of the pandemic’s havoc will not be fully assessed for years, early data suggests that COVID-19 is cutting a particularly deadly swath through America’s black communities. Reports suggest that black Americans infected by COVID-19 are dying at a higher rate than the U.S. population at large, prompting outcries from elected officials and demands for more data to help protect black communities.
While the demographic data of all coronavirus victims isn’t yet available, what is known is striking. Around 42 percent of the reported deaths where demographic information was available were black people, according to analysis from the Associated Press. Black people only make up 21 percent of the total population of the area covered by the analysis. This includes hard-hit areas like New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Experts say a number of factors contribute to the ugly trend, including a systemic lack of access to economic opportunity, which in the U.S. leads to a lack of access to healthcare. Black adults are more likely to suffer from things like asthma and diabetes, which both makes them more susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19 and more likely to be uninsured.
“The rate at which black people are dying, compared to whites, is really just astounding,” Courtney Cogburn, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, told the AP. “There are patterns at this intersection of race and socioeconomic status that make it very clear this is just not a story about poverty.”
You can read the full report in the AP.