African Americans more likely to know someone who died of coronavirus, surveys show

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Black Americans are disproportionately likely to have a family or close friend who has died from the coronavirus or another respiratory illness since March, according to a series of surveys conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Eleven percent of African Americans said they were close to someone who has died from the virus or a respiratory illness, more than double the percentage of the overall population, at 5 percent, and nearly three times the percentage of white Americans, 4 percent.

Nonwhite respondents were also more likely than the general population — at 7 percent — to have a family member or close friend who has died of COVID-19.

The surveys found similar disparities for individual metropolitan areas. While 8 percent of people in Atlanta said they knew someone who died of the disease and 4 percent of white Atlantans said the same, 14 percent of black Atlantans and 11 percent of nonwhite Atlantans said the same. In Birmingham, Ala., only 6 percent of the population at large said they knew someone who died because of COVID-19, compared to 2 percent of white respondents and 15 percent of black respondents.

At the state level, 16 percent of black Louisianans know someone who has died of coronavirus, versus 6 percent of white Louisianans. More than half of deaths from the virus in the state have been black people even though they make up about one-third of the state’s population.

“The health inequities that we’re seeing here are nothing new, because we’re starting in a place where during slavery, we had black women who were enslaved and were being experimented on by white male physicians,” Uché Blackstock, a former associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine and the founder of Advancing Health Equity, told The Associated Press. “So our healthcare system is founded on racism, and our communities have been essentially made sick by racism. We carry the highest disease burden in almost every parameter. We were already in a crisis.” 

Tags African American Atlanta Black Coronavirus COVID-19 Louisiana Pandemic poll Survey
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