So, there is now a national conversation on the enormous numbers of black Americans being infected by the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I had posted on social media that Black People would be fooled to think that we had some kind of immune to the virus, or we won’t be significantly affected when the data is finally shown.
The recent data is showing that there is a disparate impact on who’s infected and who is from the virus.
In Michigan, Black Americans are 14% of that state’s population but 40% of deaths.
In Illinois, where 113 African-Americans have died out of a recorded 274 deaths, representing 41% of the total figure. The Black community in the state numbers 1.8 million, or 14.6% of the population
We see the same disparity in North Carolina, Milwaukee, and Detroit.
Here in Westchester, if we look at the reported numbers, we can see that each city or town that have a high number of Black and Brown population also have a high number of reported positive COVID 19 when compared to cities or towns with a low percentage of Black and Brown people.
How does this virus affect us?
13.8% of severe cases and 6.1% critical of COVID-19 cases are due to the virus trekking down the windpipe and entering the lower respiratory tract, where it seems to prefer growing. The lungs are a major target
As the virus continues to replicate and journeys further down the windpipe and into the lung, it can cause more respiratory problems like bronchitis and pneumonia, according to Dr. Raphael Viscidi, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
So Why are Black Americans being infected and dying at a higher rate?
For a start, there are health inequities including access to health care, and differences in the quality of care African-Americans receive.
In other communities (white communities), hospitals are essential allies and stakeholders in helping the city to address some of the underlying issues that impact community health. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing the collateral damage of a failed healthcare system for Black People.
Data from the CDC released March 31 shows Americans with chronic medical conditions face an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Black Americans lead in many of the chronic medical conditions that make us an increased risk.
Diabetes is 60% more common in Black Americans than in white Americans.
Black Americans are three times more likely to die of asthma than white Americans.
Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life — and with much higher blood pressure levels — than whites. Nearly 42% of black men and more than 45% of black women aged 20 and older have high blood pressure.
Black Americans are disproportionately affected by obesity. Among non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older, 63 percent of men and 77 percent of women are overweight or obese.
Black Americans having these types of chronic diseases and weakened immune systems make us more victims of catching the virus and, unfortunately, dying from the illness.
There is an old saying when America catches a cold, Black American catches the flu. As usual poor and underserved rural communities, where people are less likely to have quality health insurance, are more likely to suffer.
So how do we protect ourselves?
First, we must follow the CDC guidelines.
Wash your hands often
Avoid close contact
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
Cover coughs and sneezes
Clean and disinfect
Second, Black Americans must eat better!
I have a saying If Black Lives Mattered to Black People, We would eat better!
Our eating lifestyle impacts our health. The food that we put in our bodies can save us or kill us.
All the chronic diseases we face as Black Americans are dietary-related diseases. Research studies have long indicated that high consumption of plant foods is associated with lower incidents of chronic disease.
Just changing our diet to add more fruits, vegetable nuts, and legumes and regular exercise can put us on the right track.
This change in lifestyle must be preached from every pulpit in the Black Community, especially the Black church. A Duke University Study found that Black men who attend church services frequently are nearly twice as like to be obese than Black men who never attend services.
Lastly, what else do Black Americans need to show them that we need a national agenda on how we relate to policies and systems on health in the Black Community. We should not allow our loved one’s deaths and the agony of surviving this virus to go in vein without creating a national conversation about our health, our healthcare and the racist systems that exist.