Covid-19 is still disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities, doctors warn

A new report details the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on African Americans and calls for “the most accurate data” on race and ethnicity to address this health inequity.

That statement lent “legitimacy” to conversations that have been taking place across health care sectors for some time, said Dr. Reed Tuckson, a co-founder of the coalition.

The statement also shows that the CDC understands that structural racism is a “fundamental root cause of much of the health disparities in America,” Tuckson said. “This is not a political issue. This is a human health and survival issue.”

The new report not only serves as a reminder that the covid-19 pandemic is not over, particularly for the black community, but is a “call to action” to address problems that existed long before the pandemic, he added. Tuckson.

“As we go back and look at everything that’s happened to us and everything that we’ve learned, now is the time to focus everyone’s attention on going back and fighting the old fight,” he said.

The startling racial disparities in Covid-19 outcomes seen over the past two years were not the result of the disease itself, but rather the pandemic “illuminated inequalities that have existed for generations and revealed for the entire United States a known epidemic, but often not addressed”. impacting public health: racism,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on April 8, 2021.

“Racism is not just discrimination against a group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, works, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community,” Walensky said. “These social determinants of health have negative lifelong effects on the mental and physical health of people in communities of color.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the risk of dying from Covid-19 has been almost double for black and Hispanic people in the United States than for white people, CDC data shows. Black and Hispanic people also faced a higher risk of coronavirus infection and were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized.

Even as Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths trend down in the United States, African Americans recently experienced the “highest rate of hospitalization” for any racial and ethnic group since the start of the pandemic, according to the new report.

During the week ending January 8, the hospitalization rate for black Americans was 64 per 100,000 people, the report said. That’s twice the overall weekly rate of hospitalizations for all races during the same time period and almost triple the rate of hospitalizations for white people at any point during the pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of CDC data. .

“This was the highest weekly rate of any race and ethnicity at any time during the pandemic,” according to the report.

While Covid-19 hospitalizations have since declined among all racial and ethnic groups and are now at their lowest point on record, CDC data from mid-March show weekly hospitalization rates were still higher. between blacks and Native Americans in the US

The report also references significant disparities in how the pandemic has affected children. One in 310 black children lost a parent or caregiver between April 2020 and June 2021, compared to 1 in 738 white children.

The report mentions that “racial and ethnic disparities” are expected to persist as people continue to have long-term symptoms of covid-19.

The report’s authors are physicians and public health experts, including Tuckson and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who chaired President Biden’s Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force. They wrote that “the severity of COVID-19 among African Americans was the predictable result of structural and social realities, not differences in genetic predisposition.”

Racial disparities in COVID-19 case rates among youth were prevalent early in the pandemic, CDC study finds

Now, black health leaders are calling for more accurate data on such racial disparities and how they affect public health.

“If we are to effectively address health equity among African Americans, access to the most accurate data is vital,” the report’s authors wrote.

As of this week, the CDC website that tracks Covid-19 data says the agency “is working with states to provide more information about the race/ethnicity of reported cases.” Currently, race and ethnicity data is available from the CDC for only 65% ​​of all cases and 84% of deaths.

“This report draws attention to the continued disproportionate burden experienced by members of the Black community and will help guide advocacy and policy efforts to address these inequalities, both during the current pandemic and beyond,” Núñez-Smith wrote in the report foreword. She points out that the Black Coalition Against Covid commissioned her to produce the report.

“Given generations of systemic disinvestment in the health of Black communities in the United States, the starkly disproportionate rates of illness and death from COVID-19 are not surprising,” Núñez-Smith wrote. “This report places the alarming disparities related to the pandemic within these deeper social inequalities and provides guidance for moving toward sustained change.”

While the trajectory of the pandemic remains uncertain, Tuckson made clear the need to continue to highlight the health of Black America in the midst of Covid-19 and beyond.

“If we don’t do it, someone else will have to do it,” he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of problems that have gotten a lot worse.”

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment