Why pandemic is most rampant among blacks

The WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to provide useful data and guidance on prevention. However, they did not address the effect the pandemic would have on the most vulnerable communities, especially those at risk due to poverty and social-economic inequalities.

As the numbers rose, specific demographic data remained unclear. Misconceptions that black people were immune to the coronavirus started “trending” on social media, while disproportionate data amplified the myth; a factor that contributed to their delay in taking early precautions, notwithstanding that these communities live in highly populated areas, hence social distancing was already a challenge. The myth has since been demystified.

A CDC report dated April 8 states that, “… Among 580 hospitalised Covid-19 patients with race/ethnicity data, approximately 45 per cent were white, 33 per cent were black, and 8 per cent were Hispanic, suggesting that black populations might be disproportionately affected by Covid-19.” This report concludes that the potential impact of Covid-19 by race “…needs to be confirmed with additional data.”

Data released recently by the APM Research Lab indicates that black Americans account for more than one-third of all coronavirus-related cases, despite being minorities. In Chicago, for example, data from the official government website indicates that black people represent only 29 per cent of the population, yet they account for 70 per cent of the total Covid-related deaths. In Illinois, 46 per cent of deaths were among black residents, although they represent only 14 per cent of the total population. In Michigan, blacks represent 14 per cent of the population but account for 53 per cent of deaths, while in New York, data presented is disproportionate to the population.

Politicians, activists and researchers argue that social inequalities, including, poverty and lack of proper health facilities within these communities, is negatively affecting their lives and making them more susceptible to the coronavirus disease.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio last week expressed concerns the black and the Latino communities are the ones most affected by the pandemic. “These people I saw asking for help are not rich Americans,” Cuomo said in a television briefing, citing a photo of African Americans standing on a rooftop with placards written, “Please help us”. Mayor de Blasio referred to the disparity among Latinos and blacks as “sick”.

The Federal Government recently passed the Cares Act, a bill that will support all taxpayers and all those with a Social Security number financially. While all those present in the US can receive Covid-19 screening and treatment, non-documented immigrants and those who have overstayed their visas cannot obtain a Social Security number. These are the immigrants who work odd jobs, cleaning houses and babysitting, most of whom are now jobless. These are the people who may remain locked up in their apartments without an income or a meal.

Originally published at https://www.the-star.co.ke.