It would be irresponsible to say that the coronavirus pandemic affects everyone equally.
While measures such as containment have put much of the world in a similar situation, the rate of infection and the economic and social disparities have shown that, no matter what the crisis is, there will always be disadvantages.
We have talked before about the increase in reports of domestic violence during confinement, how the economic closure affects our local businesses, and how women have been particularly affected by job cuts.
Now, new reports have exposed a disturbing increase in the incidence of the coronavirus in the African American community.
And the reason is historic.
Inequality, institutionalized racism, and their environmental and economic collaterals that have been in place for generations have always reflected an increased risk of chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes in the black community.
In cities like Chicago, “Black Americans account for 68 percent of the city’s 118 deaths and 52 percent of the roughly 5,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, despite making up just 30 percent of the city’s population,” explains the Washington Post, citing figures from the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“That means they are dying at a rate nearly six times that of white Chicagoans — a striking disparity that is also starting to emerge in other major cities,” the media adds.
In Milwaukee, the situation is not much different.
As ProPublica explains, the proliferation of false information on the networks plus the lack of a prevention protocol allowed the pandemic to spread much more rapidly, especially in black neighborhoods where “life expectancy is 14 years shorter, on average, than that of a white person” under normal circumstances.
By the end of last week, African Americans “made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black,” explains the media. “Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on black communities nationwide.”
In Michigan the relationship is similar: with a population of 14 percent black, 35 percent of the cases of Covid-19 are African-American, and they account for 40 percent of the deaths. New Orleans and North Carolina have very similar trends, as does Detroit.
“It will be unimaginable pretty soon,” said Dr. Celia J. Maxwell, an infectious disease physician and associate dean at Howard University College of Medicine, a school and hospital in Washington dedicated to the education and care of the black community. “And anything that comes around is going to be worse in our patients. Period. Many of our patients have so many problems, but this is kind of like the nail in the coffin.”
In an interview with CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Dr. Jerome Adams explained that while everyone is susceptible to Covid-19, the risk to which black Americans in the country are exposed is directly linked to medical history, less access to health care and job instability.
“We have early evidence that we need to pay particular attention to race and ethnicity,” he added.
This is evidenced by rapidly evolving numbers in states such as Louisiana, where the Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday that, of the 512 deaths recorded so far, “more than 70 percent were African American patients, who make up just 32 percent of the state’s population,” CNN reported.