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African Americans hit the hardest by COVID-19 pandemic

By Masao Suzuki |
April 15, 2020
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San José, CA - The COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping through the United States, with over 600,000 confirmed infections and almost 25,000 deaths as of April 14, is hitting African Americans the hardest. While complete data has not been released by the federal government - just one of a long list of failures - early and partial data shows that nationwide, African Americans are dying at twice the rate of other Americans from COVID-19.

The hardest hit in terms of deaths per local population, has not been New York City - although the death toll there has been terrible, with 8000 known dead - but in majority Black counties in the South. There in the black belt, the historic site of the African American Nation, the death rate per capita has been higher than New York City, (although the numbers are much smaller).

In a number of states in Midwest, including Illinois and Michigan, the death rate for African Americans has been three times as high as their share of the population. In the city of Chicago and the state of Louisiana, both with large African American populations, the percentage of dead from COVID-19 who are Black is twice that of their population share.

The heavy toll in Black communities comes as no surprise given the history of national oppression of African Americans. Blacks are twice as likely as whites not to have any health insurance, and face discrimination in the health care system. Doctors often do not test sick African Americans for COVID-19 and limit their access to proper care.

African Americans also are more likely to work in jobs which cannot be done from home, leading Blacks in so-called essential jobs such as in transportation to be more exposed to the virus. The higher levels of stress, less access to healthy foods, and higher level of poverty all add to the danger of dying from COVID-19.

What the African American community needs are both all-encompassing programs, such as universal health care, which would leave no one without health care because of their inability to pay. At the same time, support for targeted programs - such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), which graduate a disproportionate number of Black professionals, and a restoration of affirmative action in college and medical school admissions - is needed to overcome a long history of exclusion of African Americans from health care professions.

Please join Freedom Road Socialist Organization for a live stream discussion of the COVID-19 crisis and its disproportionate impact on oppressed nationalities, African Americans in particular. Featuring Masao Suzuki and Frank Chapman. Sunday April 26 @ 3pm Eastern/12pm/Pacific.

Links to the program available on all the Freedom Road Socialist Organization social media platforms. Facebook: FreedomRoadSocialistOrg, Twitter:@FreedomRoadOrg, Instagram:@FRSOorg