Michigan’s African American population has been particularly hard hit by the spread of novel coronavirus, newly released data shows. According to a report released Thursday by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, 40 percent of those who have died as a result of COVID-19 are Black people, while the racial category represents 35 percent of all cases.
The statistic is overwhelmingly disproportionate because despite Michigan cities like Detroit being majority Black, African Americans total only about 14 percent of the state’s overall population, according to census data.
The state’s death toll was at 417 with more than 10,000 total cases. Detroit itself has more than 2,800 total cases and 97 deaths.
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“The numbers don’t lie,” state Rep. Tyrone Carter, who represents Detroit and is recovering from coronavirus himself, told The Detroit News. “It reinforces what I am seeing in the city of Detroit.”
The report is one of the first in the nation based on racial data. Broad demographic figures breaking down coronavirus in terms of race and ethnicity has been elusive over the past month in which the United States as well as the world has seen an explosion in cases as well as deaths.
The Michigan Health Department released the data at the request of the media, the public and other organizations, according to The News. Wayne County, where Detroit is located has been noted over the past few days as a coronavirus hotspot because of higher cases of comorbidity issues like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease in the area’s Black population.
"There is no question that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a more significant impact on marginalized and poorer communities, particularly communities of color," Michigan Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun told The News recently.
"We know that people with these underlying medical conditions are more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19," Khaldun said.
The rise in cases among Michigan’s Black population even prompted NAACP president Derrick Johnson to urge everyone to “pay attention” to what is happening in a Twitter message.
This week, in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked for the agency to begin to look for the information, saying such comprehensive data would indicate, for example, how many Black people have died from complications associated with coronavirus, is nonexistent, according to the Associated Press.
Other metropolitan areas are also seeing serious increases in the number of African American coronavirus cases. Philadelphia reported that of the number of cases for which the city collected racial data, 46 percent are Black.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus and contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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