Health

COVID-19 more deadly to Black Americans

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Andrew Kelly/REUTERS


Published 04/05/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 48 sec 

By BWSTimes Staff

A dire warning on initial COVID-19 research reveals Black Americans are becoming disproportionately infected. Cities tracking how the virus impacts racial demographics find that, although Blacks represent less than the majority of the population, this community is experiencing higher coronavirus illness and deaths.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Blacks accounted for 81% of COVID-19 deaths while only representing 26% of the population. Communities dealing with abject poverty, coupled with environmental injustice, should hed the warnings coming from Milwaukee.  

Detroit, Michigan, and New Orleans, Louisiana, are emerging as America’s next hotspots for highly-contagious coronavirus infections and deaths. Both cities have significant Black populations. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people of any age and race with severe underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for critical illness and possible death should they contract COVID-19.

Blacks across the nation should, however, remain unapologetically vigilant and overly cautious about COVID-19 because this community has higher rates of adverse health issues. 

These underlying medical conditions include:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised (including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications)
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease
  • People with high blood pressure 

While the life expectancy for Blacks in the US increases from year to year, new analysis shows that younger Blacks are more likely to live with underlying health conditions. Diseases that develop in Blacks who are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s and may display little to no early warnings are at higher risk for morbidity induced by contracting COVID-19. 

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A Bloomberg report about a study on the deaths in Italy states that “almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses, and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions. More than 75 percent had high blood pressure, about 35 percent had diabetes, and a third suffered from heart disease.”

Black Americans between the ages of 18-34 account for 12% of High Blood pressure diagnosis, 33% for ages 35-49, and 61% for ages 50-64. 

According to the National Medical Association, there are currently some “4.9 million [Black] American adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.” Moreover, “[Black] American patients are more likely than white patients to have diabetes. The risk of diabetes is 77% higher among [Black] Americans than among non-Hispanic white Americans. The rates of diagnosis of diabetes in non-Hispanic [Black] Americans are 18.7% compared to 7.1% of non-Hispanic white Americans.” 

The novel coronavirus disease reveals the demarcation of injustice in America; consequently, poor people, other marginalized communities, and Black Americans are at higher risk.

Stay home and stay safe. 

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