Black residents are dying from the coronavirus at a significantly higher rate than other ethnic groups, according to a new study.
The research was led by scientists from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as well as Georgetown University's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Partnering with the Foundation for AIDS Research and Seattle's Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, the scientists looked at several factors leading to disparities.
"Social conditions, structural racism, and other factors elevate risk for COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in Black communities," the researchers wrote.
The researchers also said additional factors such as "health care access, density of households, unemployment, pervasive discrimination and others drive these disparities, not intrinsic characteristics of Black communities or individual-level factors."
According to CNN, the study compared counties with a Black population of 13% or more to counties with a lower number of Black residents. The counties with a higher Black population made up 58% of the coronavirus deaths nationally, the study concluded.
"Roughly one in five counties nationally is disproportionately Black and only represent 35% of the US population, but we found that these counties accounted for nearly half of COVID-19 cases and 58% of COVID-19 deaths," the researchers wrote.
Looking at more than 3,100 counties with coronavirus cases and deaths from January to April, the scientists said a majority of the disproportionately Black counties were in the South, CNN reported. The study found a total of 283,750 COVID-19 cases and 12,748 deaths in disproportionately Black counties. In all other counties, the study found 263,640 coronavirus cases and 8,886 deaths.
"Collectively, these data demonstrate significantly higher rates of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in disproportionately Black counties compared to other counties, as well as greater diabetes diagnoses, heart disease deaths, and cerebrovascular disease deaths in unadjusted analyses," the scientists concluded.
The study, which is still being reviewed, determined that "the likelihood of COVID-19 diagnoses increase with the proportion of Black residents across US counties." Researchers added that the races of 78% of current diagnoses nationally were still unknown as of April 15.
In Richmond, Virginia, 14 of the 15 residents who died from the coronavirus were Black as of April 30, USA Today reported. Fifty-nine percent of the 339 people with positive cases in the city were Black.
“High blood pressure, diabetes and chronic lung disease – we know from looking at large-scale public health data that African American communities have higher rates of these chronic diseases, in particular hypertension,” Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico health districts, told USA Today.
In Milwaukee County, Black people make up 26% of the population and account for 73% of the coronavirus deaths, The Washington Post reported. The data also shows a significant disparity in Louisiana, with Black people making up 32% of the state's population and accounting for 70% of its coronavirus deaths.
“Slightly more than 70% of deaths in Louisiana are African Americans,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “That deserves more attention and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that down."
Similar numbers are being seen in Chicago, where the coronavirus is killing Black residents at a rate six times higher than that of white residents, according to The Post. Seventy percent of those who have died from COVID-19 in Chicago have been Black.
In St. Louis, all 12 residents who died from COVID-19-related complications as of early April were Black, as Blavity previously reported. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to do more to help Black residents. The governor said the virus' toll on Black communities was due to the high number of Black people working as essential workers, particularly in health care.