The global COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus pandemic, has had a serious effect on the black community. Almost 70% of new cases in major cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee are African Americans. Political leaders and civil rights organizations have called for mandatory data collection of race and ethnicity related to COVID-19.
Sen. Kamala Harris joined several of her colleagues this week to introduce a new bill that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and report racial data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and fatalities. She has already sent a letter to U.S. House Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) demanding they prioritize addressing the racial health disparities that have emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By now, you are no doubt aware that COVID-19 appears to be disproportionately infecting and killing minorities across the nation. In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, preliminary data reveals the virus is twice as deadly for black and Latino people compared to white people,” explained Harris in a press statement. “In Arizona, which has reported race and ethnicity data for half of its COVID-19 deaths, Native Americans account for 16% of deaths despite comprising only 6% of the population. While black individuals make up roughly one-third of Chicago’s population, they represent more than half of those who have tested positive and 68% of those who have died in the city, suggesting black Chicagoans are dying from COVID-19 at a rate nearly six times greater than white residents. We have seen similar patterns emerge from Michigan to Louisiana, from the Carolinas to Las Vegas.”
The rise in coronaviruses cases has caused serious alarm across the black community with many citing the lack of healthcare access and historic distrust of the medical field stemming from a long history of racism as a factor in what is driving this surge in infected cases.