COVID-19 Impacting Black Americans at Alarming Rate

Unanswered questions still surround COVID-19, but health experts say one thing is clear: the virus is impacting Black Americans at an alarming rate

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As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to tick upwards, experts say it's clear, the virus is taking a toll on Black Americans.

"We've been putting band-aids on a lot of these issues, but not addressing the core issues," Dr. Milam said.

Dr. Milam detailed COVID disparities in a newly published article in the journal, Health Equity. For example, Dr. Milam says in Michigan alone, African-Americans are 14% of the population but account for more than 40% of COVID deaths. One reason for the disparity is Black Americans have a higher incidence of other health conditions.

"African-Americans have a higher prevalence of diabetes, higher prevalence of high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, all of those are risk factors for COVID-19."

Researchers say that's just a part of a much broader picture.

"Racism is not on the death certificate," Noble Maseru said.

But Noble Maseru says pre-existing social conditions do contribute to COVID.

Limited access to health care and affordable housing, undernutrition, low wages, and economic insecurity. Many employees in service industries could not afford to stay home during the pandemic.

"They're going out as part of that essential workforce, and so they're additionally exposing themselves and they're already more vulnerable," Maseru said.

In the short-term Maseru advocates more testing and contact tracing in underserved communities. Some experts say adopting a federal living wage will help families close the health gaps.

"Now is the opportunity to address some of these issues that have been lingering for three to four decades," Milam said.

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