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St. Louis health director: 'All 12 COVID-19 deaths' in St. Louis have been black

St. Louis health director: 'All 12 COVID-19 deaths' in St. Louis have been black
© City of St. Louis

Fredrick Echols, a doctor who serves as health director for the city of St. Louis, has disclosed that, as of Wednesday, all 12 COVID-19 deaths recorded in the city were African Americans.

In a piece published by The St. Louis American on Wednesday, Echols wrote that the “coronavirus pandemic has brought to light what many healthcare providers in the St. Louis region already know: the communities with the highest health disparities and lack of access to health care will be hit the hardest by COVID-19.”

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His comments come as state officials have faced increasing pressure to release the racial breakdown of coronavirus cases and deaths in their states in recent weeks. Early data that has emerged has already shown that black and Latino communities are being disproportionately affected by the outbreak across the country. 

Though several states and Washington, D.C., have begun to release the racial data surrounding COVID-19 cases among their residents, Missouri is not among them.

However, Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said he is putting pressure on medical providers to record racial information for COVID-19 cases, The Associated Press reports.

"We sent out a directive today to reinforce that we do want that demographic, because we think it's really important," Williams told the news agency.

So far, the latest data from the state’s health department shows over 3,500 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the state, with 77 deaths. In St. Louis, where past U.S. census data shows African Americans account for roughly 45 percent of the population, 514 cases have been reported so far, data provided by the city also shows.

When speaking to reporters about the data earlier this week, Echols said, “If you look at the health disparities in the city of St. Louis, they’re not unique,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Inequities exist across the U.S. and across the world, and it’s posed a challenge for public health agencies, [which] have to address those issues and ensure all individuals, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, income, or educational attainment have access to quality health-related resources,” he also said, according to the paper.

Echols said, based on the number of cases being reported, it's likely officials will extend the stay-at-home order that was originally set to end on April 22.

“However, things may change. We will continue to monitor the situation,” he continued.

The Hill has reached to Echols for comment.