Alarming COVID-19 death rates in black community likely due to existing inequalities

Alarming COVID-19 death rates in black community likely due to existing inequalities
Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 16:53:37-04

Early reports show African Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at alarming rates.

For example, in Illinois, 15% of the population is black. However, African Americans make up about 42% of coronavirus deaths.

Experts tell us that although the numbers are sobering, they're not that surprised to see this trend.

"It's due in large part to the structural inequalities that have existed in black communities for decades. Right?” said Sharrelle Barber with Drexel University’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “And these structural inequalities are a result of structural racism."

Barber says Americans in black and other “minority communities” tend to have less access to healthcare and testing. They tend to work in low wage jobs that are now considered essential. And, they live in crowded situations, making social distancing difficult.

Barber says these same structural inequities have led to minority communities being more prone to chronic health conditions, like asthma, diabetes and hypertension, putting people at an even greater risk.

"What I'm hearing now is a lot of folks blaming black folks. Oh, it's you know they don't eat well, and you know all of these kinds of behavioral explanations for why we have these underlying chronic conditions,” said Barber. "I'm beginning to see that narrative, and I think it's a very false narrative in this moment."

Few areas are releasing virus statistics by race.

Barber says we need more data, so we can get resources to the places that need relief most.