African Americans Facing Higher Rates of Coronavirus

"Racism is at the root of this," said Dr. Camara Jones of the Morehouse School of Medicine
Camara Jones. Photo by Tony RInaldoCamara Jones. Photo by Tony RInaldo
nbcboston.com
April 8, 2020
By Brian Burnell and Mary Markos

African Americans are dying from the coronavirus at a higher percentage than white people due to systemic inequality, an expert says.

"Racism is at the root of this," said Dr. Camara Jones of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Jones, who studies the health impacts of racism at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute, said the devastating affect on the African American community is caused by increased exposure to the highly contagious virus.

Many African Americans work in the service industry -- jobs that can't be done from home -- and therefore experience increased exposure. Additionally, many people of color have lived for generations with limited access to healthy food and quality medical care, increasing their susceptibility to contracting COVID-19, according to Jones.

"It's often true that the same neighborhoods that are making people sicker also have fewer health care resources there," she said, "so we do need to put resources in those places."

The state and federal government are starting to track ethnic data related to the coronavirus, but the available statistics are limited.

Massachusetts revealed the race and ethnicity of the state's cases for the first time Wednesday, but the majority have yet to be established. The race or ethnicity of 53% of confirmed coronavirus cases is unknown and is missing in another 16% of cases, according to the data.

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2020