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