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Coronavirus: Death Toll Racial Disparities

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

Weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, record numbers of deaths continue to be reported both domestically and abroad. Health officials have worked to understand which segments of America’s population are at the highest risk for infection and fatality.

A troubling insight has emerged: across the United States, the virus appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate.  For instance, 27.2 percent of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin’s population is African American.  But last week,  New York Magazine reported “twenty-seven people who tested positive for COVID-19 had died there as of Friday; 81 percent of them were black.”

Such racial disparities are also evident in Michigan, Illinois and Louisiana. It’s become so prevalent that President Donald Trump addressed it in a briefing last week.

Why does this disparity exist? And what can be done to change this?

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