Many Black people once believed, at the onset of the global pandemic, they were immune to catching coronavirus as it first swept through nations in Asia and Europe.
Not only has that once-humorous assertion been debunked, but the effects on Black communities have been the polar opposite: COVID-19 cases and deaths in African-American communities are increasing at an alarming pace.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the fast-spreading virus.
In Milwaukee, nearly half of the 945 COVID-19 infections have been Black patients, according to ProPublica. Of the 27 residents who have died of coronavirus complications, 81 percent were Black people, though the demographic makes up just 26 percent of the city’s population.
In New York City, one of the epicenters of the pandemic in the United States, cases in The Bronx borough are rapidly rising, reaching 10,765 as of Friday. The Bronx, which is over 43 percent Black, has reported 480 deaths from COVID-19.
As reported by The City, Bronx dwellers have a high rate of asthma, hypertension and diabetes. People with these pre-existing conditions have been especially vulnerable to the virus.
African-Americans have long suffered from said pre-existing conditions, due largely to environmental, economic and political factors. Now, cities with large Black populations, like Detriot and New Orleans, have seen its case count grow exponentially. The Detriot Free Press reported that Wayne County, which includes majority-Black Detroit, accounts for 47 percent of its state’s positive cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now revealing race-related statistics in regards to coronavirus, but Dr. Camara Jones, who worked with the CDC for 13 years measuring the racial bias in the medical system, feels the growing number of Blacks affected have revealed how much their communities have been ignored over time.
“COVID is just unmasking the deep disinvestment in our communities, the historical injustices and the impact of residential segregation,” Dr. Jones, currently a Harvard University visiting fellow, told ProPublica. “This is the time to name racism as the cause of all of those things. The overrepresentation of people of color in poverty and white people in wealth is not just a happenstance. … It’s because we’re not valued.”
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 321,700 in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country has the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by Spain, Italy and Germany.
More than 1.2 million people have been infected around the world.