April 3, 2020), NAATPN executive director Delmonte Jefferson was featured on Charlotte's Fox46 to comment on emerging data that confirms what many of us have predicted. African Americans are, indeed, experiencing higher COVID-19 infection and death rates. As the pandemic has spread across the country, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has focused its reporting on the geographic locations of the virus. While racially specific data has been noticeably absent, some cities are beginning to see a pattern. In his video interview with Charlotte's Fox46, Jefferson warned that the county's COVID-19 cases--44% African American--represent a larger issue, locally and nationally.
“The coronavirus attacks and impacts weakened immune systems because of other conditions you might have...and African-Americans disproportionately have diabetes, lung issues associated with tobacco use, and HIV/AIDS in some cases.” He was clear that social and economic factors that existed before coronavirus are very likely to extend for African Americans after the nation's pandemic begins to settle. Jefferson's concerns are aligned with city-level data reported today by New York Times Opinion writer Charles Blow:
Chicago: 70% COVID-19 deaths are Black
Detroit: 40% of novel coronavirus deaths are Black
Charlotte/Mecklenburg County: 44% COVID-19 cases are Black
Milwaukee County, Wis.: 81% COVID-19 deaths are Black
In all cases, the number African American deaths or cases is disproportionate to the African American population in its locality. In a recent letter, members of Congress including Sen. Elizabeth Warren have urged HHS to release racial data with regard to COVID-19. Such data would have significant implications for who gets tested, where mobile hospitals are located, how triage for ventilators is conducted, and the way in which misinformation in the Black community may be prevented. The letter states, "This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in vulnerable communities."
For NAATPN resources and information related to the pandemic, visit our new site dedicated to disseminating curated facts and helpful information for African Americans.