Early data is making it clear that black people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In Michigan, African Americans make up 40% of deaths from the disease, though they’re only 14% of the population. In Louisiana, which has a black population of roughly 32%, more than 70% of people who have died of COVID-19 are black. A disproportionately high number of black people are dying from COVID-19 in Illinois and North Carolina as well.
As doctors and other health care officials plead with the federal government to release the racial breakdowns of people who have contracted the disease in order to identify potential disparities, we already know that black people in the US grapple with higher poverty rates and poorer health outcomes than the national average, thanks to decades of systemic inequality. Preexisting conditions common in black communities like hypertension, asthma, and diabetes also increase the likelihood of having complications from COVID-19.
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