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*** UPDATED x1 *** Playing a belated game of catch-up

Tuesday, Apr 7, 2020

* NY Times

In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died are African-American, though only a third of the state’s population is black. In the county around Milwaukee, where 27 percent of residents are black, nearly twice as many African-American residents tested positive for the virus as white people. And in Chicago, where African-American residents make up a little less than a third of the population, more than half of those found to have the virus are black, and African-Americans make up 72 percent of those who have died of the virus.

Data on the race of those sickened by the virus has only been made public in a handful of places and is too limited to make sweeping conclusions. But racial disparities in cases and outcomes, researchers said, reflect what happens when a viral pandemic is layered on top of entrenched inequalities.

The data, researchers said, is partly explained by factors that could make black Americans more vulnerable in any outbreak: They are less likely to be insured, more likely to already have health conditions and more likely to be denied testing and treatment. There is also the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus in a society where black Americans disproportionately hold jobs that do not allow them to stay at home, the researchers said.

“If you walk outside and see who is actually still working,” said Elaine Nsoesie, of Boston University’s School of Public Health, “the data don’t seem surprising.”

If the type of jobs people have was a major factor, or the fact that they rely on public transit, you’d think the Latino rate would be much higher than it is. The state’s latest figures show 7.5 percent of all reported COVID-19 deaths are Latinos. But they’re 17.4 percent of the state’s population.

* Sun-Times

Among all Chicagoans who have died from the virus, 97% suffered from underlying health problems, city data show.

* Tribune

Indeed, some of the hardest hit communities on the South and West sides have struggled with unemployment and health care access for generations. As a result, residents have higher baseline rates of diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and high blood pressure — the chronic conditions that make the coronavirus even more deadly.

Even before the pandemic, these chronic conditions attributed to a life-expectancy gap in the city. On average, white Chicagoans live nine years longer than black residents, with half of the disparity due to chronic illnesses and smoking rates in black communities, public health officials said. […]

Six of the 10 ZIP codes with the most coronavirus-related deaths in Cook County are in Chicago, the data shows. Deaths were concentrated in majority-black, South Side neighborhoods including Auburn Gresham, South Chicago, South Shore and Chatham.

“This is not just about racial and ethnic disparity and the outcomes,” Lightfoot said. “The distribution of this disease tells the story about resources and inequality. A story about unequal health care access, job access and community investment. Dynamics we know all too well here in the city of Chicago and something all of us have been talking about and fighting against for years.”

Yes, these dynamics are quite well-known, which is why government at all levels and not just in Chicago and Cook County should’ve been far more proactive.


* Sun-Times editorial

What’s to be done?

Mayor Lightfoot on Monday presented a city plan essentially aimed at getting the message out more forcefully in communities of color and monitoring cases early. There will be more outreach workers. There will be more well-being checks.

If those sound like pretty basic steps, they are. But then, everything about slowing the spread and beating back the coronavirus is basic. There is no magic cure, though President Trump has been talking up an untested drug, hydroxchloroquine. There is no vaccine.

For now, there is only this: social distancing. And so we once again urge everyone — and perhaps most especially African Americans — to practice social distancing as much as humanly possible.

Easier said than done if you have to work outside the home, but still true.

*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter

Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates.

In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. […]

The paper found that if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would most likely have seen 248 fewer Covid-19 deaths by this point in the outbreak. […]

The District of Columbia, for instance, is likely to have a higher death rate than the adjacent Montgomery County, Md. Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, should be worse than nearby Lake County, Ill. Fulton County, Ga., which includes Atlanta, is likely to suffer more deaths than the adjacent Douglas County.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 11:14 am:

    Please get the message out in West Rogers Park, a community with a large Orthodox Jewish population. What does that area have in common with the African American areas detailed?

  2. - Pundent - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    = There is no magic cure, though President Trump has been talking up an untested drug, hydroxchloroquine.=

    Which according to the NY Times Trump has a “small personal financial interest” in.

  3. - Nuke The Whales - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    ==Please get the message out in West Rogers Park, a community with a large Orthodox Jewish population. What does that area have in common with the African American areas detailed?==

    Well, according to CMAP, West Ridge is 12% African American and Rogers Park is 26% African American.

  4. - Froganon - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 11:41 am:

    It’s time for a Marshall Plan for zip codes with entrenched poverty. Elizabeth Warren has for plans post virus economic renewal. Pass the Fair Tax, invest in communities and people that are underserved. Charge lower interest rates for college debt than we give corporations for invest. Repeal tax breaks for the 1% and for corporations. Medicare for all. Unleash the power of America for all of us.

  5. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 11:55 am:

    @Nuke the Whales, there are also reports that congregations are still meeting. this is also true of the South Side.

  6. - Common Sense - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    There’s a degree of personal responsibility at play as well. No one is forced to drink soda rather than water.

    There are thousands of free workout on YouTube which require only body weight exercises.

  7. - LakeCo - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    @CommonSense - you are assuming a lot with that statement, including access to internet and the leisure time to exercise.
    You should probably do some reading on systemic racism in America before you start talking about personal responsibility.

  8. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 12:27 pm:

    anyone watch the last episode of ABC’s mixedish? it’s all about the fear of visiting doctors. I’m wondering if that is as prevalent as the episode made it seem.

  9. - Downstate - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    The issue of personal responsibility is not one of skin color, but of character. The incidence of diabetes in our region is alarming and driven by personal decisions. We have few minorities in our county.

  10. - From the Corn Crib - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    The parish with the highest death rate is St John the Baptist parish, which has a high cancer rate due to air pollution coming from nearby factories. With this virus being respiratory in nature, the addition of air pollution illnesses makes for a bad combination. A lot of poor people live near factories. I wonder if air pollution clusters and high-death rate areas overlap, the poor respiratory health due to air pollution is a factor.

  11. - JoanP - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    There’s a survey in the current issue of Consumers Reports indicating that 13% of African-American respondents felt that they had received inadequate care from their healthcare provider due to their race. It was 2% for “white,Asian, other”.

    So there’s that.

  12. - Rasselas - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    Downstate - ‘personal responsibility’ sounds nice, but we’ve created an environment in which the easier choice is usually the unhealthy choice. E.g., the way we’ve subsidized certain foods, unhealthy fast food is much cheaper than fresh, healthier choices. We build roads, but don’t include side walks. Etc.

    Can a determined individual swim upstream and resist this? Yes, some. But most people can’t and don’t. It would be a lot more effective to make the easier choice a healthy choice than to just scold everybody into compliance, or worse, decided that it’s just their fault.

  13. - Barrington - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:24 pm:

    This study adds to the evidence:

  14. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:25 pm:

    Everyone has their own view of the world. Racism exists so all bad outcomes are driven by racism. Partially true.

    However, look at the differences between Italy and Germany. These aren’t racial but do seem to be cultural. Germans stand farther apart than Italians and are more likely to follow orders.

  15. - Downstate - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 1:46 pm:

    You are correct, we’ve created the environment of unhealthy choices. It can become even more frustrating when one realizes we (taxpayers) are paying for those unhealthy choices. But how do we change that? Without getting into a political argument, even the idea of not allowing people with SNAP benefits to purchase sugared soda draws out the long knives from both sides of the debate.

  16. - yinn - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 2:41 pm:

    ==But how do we change that?==

    Investment. Addressing pollution, poverty, food insecurity, violence, trauma, and the rest of a host of stressors, including just plain bad luck, that lead to despair, poor choices and poor health. Policing a person’s grocery cart is a useless gesture, just a way to dance the superior strut.

  17. - Urban Girl - Tuesday, Apr 7, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    White fragility is running throughout many of these comments. If you are white, it is easier to believe that the differences in outcomes are the result of bad choices rather than to understand that you have benefited from the unjust realities of structural and personal racism.

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