80% Of Georgia Residents Hospitalized With COVID-19 Are Black
CDC researchers found that occupational segregation places Black workers at increased risk for contracting COVID-19.
Eighty percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Georgia are Black, making Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses all the more concerning for communities of color.
Like what you're reading?
Get more in your inbox.
A study conducted by the CDC throughout eight Georgia hospitals found that 247 out of 305 patients with COVID-19 were Black, according to The Washington Post. The results of the survey were released on Wednesday. Forty percent of those sampled had diabetes, a condition twice as high among Black Georgia residents in comparison to their non-Black counterparts.
While the majority of Georgia's COVID-19 hospitalizations are Black Americans, the community accounts for 36% of all COVID-19 diagnoses in the state. It's worth noting that the races of 28% of diagnosed persons have not been accounted for.
Georgia is unfortunately not an outlier when it comes to the inordinate toll COVID-19 has taken on Black communities in the U.S. According to the latest national CDC data, Black people, who only constitute 13% of the national population, account for nearly 30% of COVID-19 patients.
Not only are Black people more inclined to have comorbidities which worsen conditions, but they are also more likely to work in industries with a high level of contact with the public, according to CDC researchers. Additionally, 50% of Black Americans are more likely to be represented in healthcare positions and 40% more likely to work in hospitals, The Guardian reported.
Adding insult to injury: the trend of hospitals not heeding the health concerns of Black women has not slowed any amid the pandemic.
In Detroit, Deborah Gatewood, a Black nurse, was repeatedly denied treatment by the hospital where she spent 31 years working. Gatewood died after being sent home from the hospital four times.
"They sent her home saying you are showing signs of COVID. So they were confirming that she most likely had COVID, but they did not test her,” her daughter, Kaila Corrothers, told Fox2Detroit. “The fact that she got infected by doing the job she did for 31 years and she couldn't get taken care of by her own family, meaning Beaumont [hospital], it’s sad. It is disheartening to say the least."
Gatewood passed away at the end of March. She was 63.
The occupational disparities driving higher rates of infection in Black communities place Black Georgians at increased risk, as Kemp sends the state back to work in customer-facing industries staffed with over 10% more Black employees than white. The move, cutting off their access to unemployment, leaves workers with little choice, according to The Intelligencer.
Naturally, CDC researchers urge public officials to ground themselves in the racial implications of the health crisis in order to avoid further victimizing vulnerable populations.“It is important to continue ongoing efforts to understand the reasons for these racial disparities, including the role of socioeconomic and occupational factors in transmission,” the CDC wrote. “Public officials should consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities.”
While Kemp’s decision stands unaligned with the experts, the disproportionate mortality rates in Black communities illuminate a deeply complex issue. Black Americans are not simply under-tested and overexposed — they are often denied proper treatment, too.
“We know in the U.S. that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded,” Dr. Ebony Hilton, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia, told BuzzFeed News.
A grieving Corrothers knows these biases can prove lethal.
"All of this time when you're telling her to go home and rest it off how do you really rest off bi-lateral pneumonia other than cough medicine to cough it out, it's too severe at this point. I just went up to the hospital and sat in the parking lot. If this was as close as I can be to her if this is going to happen, I'm going to sit in my car until I get that phone call," Corrothers told Fox2Detroit.