CDC: COVID-19 is disproportionally affecting African-Americans

Posted at 10:29 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 07:19:22-04

BALTIMORE — The novel coronavirus is disproportionately affecting African-Americans more than any other group, according to a report published Wednesday by the CDC.

The report included data from 1,482 coronavirus patients hospitalized in 14 states. It also provided racial breakdowns of 580 patients, which highlighted glaring disparities.

It found in the cases where race was provided more than a third of the them were African-Americans, despite the group making up nearly 20 percent of the population

Dr. Susan Mani, who is the chief population health officer at Life Bridge Health, has been collecting data for the past two years on social disparities in the African-American community to help improve health outcomes.

She says inequalities such as lack of resources and access to health care makes African-Americans more likely to have preexisting conditions, which leads to worse outcomes when infected with the coronavirus.

"We’re finding hypertension, obesity and certain underlying diseases like cardiovascular disease," she said. "It is thought there is a greater prevalence in some of those [conditions] in our African-American population.

However, the scope of exactly how widespread the disparities are across the country remain unknown. Currently, there are at least eight states as well as Washington D.C, including race when reporting coronavirus cases. As of now, Maryland is not one of those states.

"Without the data, we are literally shooting in the dark," said State Delegate Nick Mosby.

On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan directed the state health department to include demographic breakdowns of race in the state’s coronavirus data.

The move came after Mosby and more than 70 other lawmakers urged the governor to do so, but Mosby says the governor needs to go a step further and include zip codes as well.

“The data will literally tell us what communities are impacted the most, what communities to go after and ensuring we have a plan that’s effective and equitable as it relates to engagement, testing and treatment,” Mosby said.

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young expressed his support to release the data during a news conference Wednesday, but he says he’s been waiting on the state to give them the information.

“We have asked for that information but the state has it," he said.

Baltimore City Council introduced legislation to direct the city's health department to include demographic breakdown in reporting coronavirus cases.

Dr. Mani, who is apart of the state's coronavirus task force, says that information could be available as soon as Friday.