The novel coronavirus is killing a disproportionately higher number of African Americans than other racial demographics, US president Donald Trump and his top public health experts said Tuesday, acknowledging an emerging concern as the country recorded its highest single-day fatalities of nearly 2,000.
The US toll stood at 12,991 Wednesday morning and reported confirmed cases were up to about 399,000, as officials expressed cautious optimism that some of the severely-hit areas may have stabilized. New York, the worst hit state with nearly 5,500 fatalities (more than 4,000 in New York City alone), is looking at a “projected plateau” in hospitalization numbers.
The disproportionately high death rate among American Americans has emerged as a new worry. “We’re seeing tremendous evidence that African Americans are affected at a far greater percentage number than other citizens of our country,” President Trump said at the daily White House briefing by the coronavirus task force.
Nation-wide figures are not available yet, but the evidence is unmistakable from some state numbers. African Americans comprise just 14% of the population in Michigan but account for 40% of the fatalities; they are 32% of the population in Louisiana but 70% of all deaths. Black Americans make up 30% of Chicago but 68% of fatalities. These numbers are based on data published by states and news media outlets; there is no nation-wide data available yet, but the White House coronavirus task force is expected to release a compilation shortly.
Public health officials and experts have blamed the high death rate to the high incidence of underlying conditions such as blood pressure and heart ailments, diabetes, asthma and obesity among African Americans, linked to poverty and the comparative lack of healthcare facilities among some communities.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is African American, and 45-years-old, addressed the underlying issues speaking about himself. “I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus). That’s why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread,” he told CBS.
He is pre-diabetic, has high blood pressure and suffers from asthma. “So I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America,” Adams said.
As the president acknowledged for the first time the growing concerns about African Americans being most at risk, he said, “We are doing everything in our power to address this challenge, and it’s a tremendous challenge,” Trump said. “It’s terrible.” He added that Anthony Fauci, country’s premier epidemiologist and member of the task-force, is “is looking at it very strongly.”
Deborah Birx, coordinator of the task force, added, “We don’t want to give the impression that the African American community is more susceptible to the virus; we don’t have any data that suggests that. What our data suggests is they are more susceptible to more difficult and severe disease and poorer outcomes.”