In Louisiana, one of the most devastated states by coronavirus, about 70 percent of people have died is an African-American, officials announced on Monday, even though only a third of the country’s population is black.
In the area around Milwaukee, where 27 percent of the population is black, nearly twice as many African-Americans tested positive for the virus than white people, figures released this week show.
And in Chicago, where African-American populations make up a little less than a third of the population, more than half of those found to have a black virus. The death toll there is even more alarming: African-Americans make up 72 percent of those who die of the virus in Chicago.
“The numbers amaze you, really,” said Lori Lightfoot, mayor of Chicago, who announced city figures on Monday. “This is a moment of call to action for all of us.”
Ms. Lightfoot, the first black woman to be elected mayor of the city, said in an interview that the statistics were “among the most shocking things I think I have seen as mayor.”
Data on the race of Americans who have been sick by coronavirus have only been published in a few places, and are too limited at this point, experts say, to make comprehensive conclusions about the national or long-term picture. But day after day, statistics are showing that black population is infected at disturbing rates in some of the largest cities and states in the country.
Racial disparities in coronavirus cases and outcomes, say public health researchers, reflect what happens when a viral pandemic is stratified over deep-rooted inequalities.
The data that appeared in several places, the researchers said, was partly explained by factors that could make American blacks more vulnerable in epidemics: They tend to be uninsured, more likely to have existing health conditions and, as a result of implied racial bias. , more likely to be refused testing and maintenance. And then, say the researchers, there is a very contagious nature of coronavirus in a society where black Americans disproportionately have jobs that do not allow them to stay at home.
“If you walk outside and see who really is still working,” said Elaine Nsoesie, an infectious disease modeler at Boston University School of Public Health, “the data don’t seem to be surprising.”
States such as North Carolina and South Carolina have reported that, when compared to white populations, black populations have a higher proportion of positive corona virus tests than they represent in the general population. Black people are over-represented compared to white people among those infected in the Las Vegas area and among those who have tested positive for the virus in Connecticut. In Minnesota, African-Americans have been infected with coronavirus at a rate that is roughly proportional to the percentage of the state population.
However, in many places, the data comes with significant limitations. Officials report race data for cases where the patient’s race is known. For a large percentage of the total cases in these places – sometimes more than 40 percent – there is no racial information.
And officials in many countries, including those affected by the pandemic – California, New Jersey, New York and Washington – have not provided information in all states about the patient’s race.
It has caused anger in several corners. Jumaane D. Williams, public advocate for New York City, on Thursday sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for the release of details of the case with race. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Kamala Harris from California and Cory Booker from New Jersey demanded the Trump administration collecting racial and ethnic data in coronavirus testing and treatment.
“Despite the obvious vulnerability of people of color in these public health emergencies, comprehensive demographic data on the racial and ethnic characteristics of people tested or treated for Covid-19 do not exist,” the Democratic senators wrote in their letter, referring to the disease caused by coronavirus.
As for places where racial data has been tracked and published, some experts point to existing structural inequalities as possible explanations for these differences.
Sharrelle Barber, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics research at Drexel University, said the government reduced the policies that occurred in the 1930s leaving many neighborhoods with black residents lacking job opportunities, stable housing, stable food stores with healthy food and more. That means disproportionate levels of asthma and diabetes, he said, as well as residents who can’t just live inside their homes and away from work.
“These communities, structurally, they are a breeding ground for disease transmission,” he said. “That is not biological. In fact this is structural inequality that will shape racial inequality in this pandemic.”
Before the pandemic struck, officials had calculated that Chicago’s white people had an average life expectancy of 8.8 years longer than the black population.
“Systemic and institutional racism that has driven this inequality for years now we see a role in the Covid data,” Dr. Allison Arwady, director of the city’s public health department.
Officials said on Monday that they would order health care providers to offer complete demographic information about all corona virus patients so that Chicago could spread what the mayor called the “rapid racial injustice response team” that would monitor symptoms, offer testing and help enforce distance social in places like grocery stores. . Plans are also in place to offer additional buses along busy routes so that passengers can have more distance between each other.
In Detroit, Reverend Larry Simmons said, “We see the same thing as we always see: There is a fundamental injustice in America, and this corona crisis has just revealed it.”
Reporting was contributed by Audra D. S. Burch, Amy Harmon, Mitch Smith and Matt Furber.
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