Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith: Racial discrimination could be the key reason for high mortality rates of COVID-19 among African Americans


The COVID-19 has claimed over 190, 000 American lives.  There is increasing evidence that African Americans are being disproportionately hit hard by the virus.  Black people continue to experience the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide—more than twice as high as the rate for Whites.  The new CDC data — made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reveals a clearer and more complete picture.

Earlier, figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab released in May under the title Color of Coronavirus provide additional evidence of the staggering divide in the Covid-19 death rate between African Americans and the rest of the nation.

According to a more recent report from the National Urban League, based partly on data from Johns Hopkins University, African Americans are getting infected with the coronavirus at a rate three times that of whites and they are twice as likely to die from COVID-19.

At the level of individual states, the statistics are even more shocking.  In four states, the rate is three or more times greater.  In eight states, it’s more than four times greater.  NPR’s analysis finds that in 32 states plus Washington D.C., African Americans are dying at rates higher than their proportion of the population.

“We know that these racial ethnic disparities in COVID-19 are the result of pre-pandemic realities.  It’s a legacy of structural discrimination that has limited access to health and wealth for people of color,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine.

Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put African Americans at increased risk of getting infected and dying from COVID-19.  Structural factors including health care access, density of households, unemployment, pervasive discrimination and others drive these disparities.

The coronavirus is shining a bright light on unacceptable health disparities for African Americans, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a White House briefing with President Trump.

The federal government, however, continues to be sluggish in responding to the crisis.  There remained little sign of the Trump administration stepping up to tackle the crisis.  The racial wound at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to fester.  Racial inequality in the US is just as deadly as Covid-19 if not more.

(Syndicated press content is neither written, verified or endorsed by ED Times)

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