* Maria Ines Zamudio and Elliott Ramos…
The COVID-19 virus is killing black residents in Cook County at disproportionately high rates, according to early data analyzed by WBEZ.
While black residents make up only 23% of the population in the county, they account for 58% of the COVID-19 deaths. And half of the deceased lived in Chicago, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
As of Saturday, 107 of Cook County’s 183 deaths from COVID-19 were black. In Chicago, 61 of the 86 recorded deaths – or 70% – were black residents. Blacks make up 29% of Chicago’s population.
The majority of the black COVID-19 patients who died had underlying health conditions including respiratory problems and diabetes. Eighty-one percent of them had hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes or both. […]
“It’s disturbing and upsetting, but not surprising,” said Dr. Linda Rae Murray, health policy professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This is just a reflection of the facts that we already know about these pandemics. People who are vulnerable will die quicker and won’t have as many resources.”
*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…
The following statement was issued by SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana president Greg Kelley in response to news of the disproportionately high number of African American victims of the coronavirus:
CHICAGO–”News that a disproportionate number of African Americans, particularly Black males, die as a result of the coronavirus disease is shocking, yet not surprising. For far too long, officials have talked about and planned strategies to address economic and health disparities that exist among African Americans. The current pandemic demonstrates the dismal impact of their efforts.
“As a Black male, these statistics further heighten my concern for our members. They are the predominantly African American healthcare workers who are undervalued members of the workforce without whom no medical delivery would be possible.
“The person who transports patients, does the laundry, cleans the patient or prepares the food, and more, is likely to be Black. These same “essential” workers – people prone to underlying health conditions – have to labor without proper protective equipment, fight for decent wages and many can’t afford health insurance at the institutions where they work.
“The coronavirus is a devastating disease that we must work together to overcome. The bigger disease is the one that continues to perpetuate these conditions in the African American community. Let’s declare racism as a pandemic and put forth the proper resources to address it.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Better late than never, I suppose…
Calling it a “public health red alarm,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged on Monday that her administration will unveil a plan to address the coronavirus’ toll on black and brown Chicagoans after data showed they were being hit especially hard by the disease.
About 70% of Chicagoans who have died from COVID-19 are African American, Lightfoot acknowledged.
“It’s devastating to see those numbers and knowing that they’re not just numbers, they’re lives, there’s families and communities that have been shattered,” Lightfoot said. “That’s why we will be announcing a very robust and immediate comprehensive plan to address this.”