New data released by the Bureau of Communicable Disease Surveillance System has highlighted a startling trend in coronavirus deaths: African American and Hispanic patients are the most heavily affected by the virus, although at this point, this information has been reported on only 63 percent of cases.
In New York City, 34 percent of fatalities were of Hispanic descent and 28 percent were of African American descent, according to data released by the New York State Department of Health.
At his briefing on Tuesday, President Donald Trump raised concerns about the new data as well. “Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people?” Trump said. “It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t like it, and we are going to have statistics over the next probably two to three days.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who also spoke during Tuesday’s briefing, said that African Americans weren’t more susceptible to the virus than other communities, but she said, data suggested “they are more susceptible to more difficult and severe disease and poorer outcomes.”
This trend appears to be true across the country. The Washington Post found that in Milwaukee, African Americans made up 26 percent of the population, but accounted for 73 percent of deaths. On Monday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that 512 people had died from COVID-19 in the state so far. Seventy percent of those who died were African American patients, according to Bell, despite making up just 32 percent of the state’s population.
“We have early evidence that we need to pay particular attention to race and ethnicity,” American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris told CNN on Tuesday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also addressed those findings during his own briefing Wednesday morning. “It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price,” Cuomo said.
The issue is also on the radar of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who issued her own statement Wednesday afternoon.
“To say it is disturbing would be an understatement. Public health crises like this both reveal and exacerbate the depths of inequality in our society,” James said. “We must expand treatment, rapid testing, and tracking with a sharp eye toward marginalized communities.”