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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Coronavirus causes chaos in African American neighborhoods

An empty street in Chicago

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Getty Images

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Chicago saw a total of 98 deaths, 72% of which were black residents

The stiff statistics of Chicago health officials underscored the heavy coronavirus toll on black Americans.

Black Chicago represent half of all coronavirus cases in the city and over 70% of deaths, despite making up 30% of the population.

Other cities with large black populations, including Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and New York, have become coronavirus hotspots.

The United States has registered nearly 370,000 virus cases and nearly 11,000 deaths.

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Globally there have been nearly 75,000 deaths and over 1.3 million cases in total.

What do the Chicago statistics show?

As of April 5, 1,824 of Chicago’s 4,680 confirmed that Covid-19 cases were black residents, city officials said Monday.

This compared to 847 whites, 478 Hispanics and 126 Asians from Chicago.

Chicago has seen a total of 98 deaths since Sunday, with 72% of whom are black residents.

The disparity is reflected across the state, where blacks account for 41% of Covid-19 deaths, despite making up 14% of the Illinois population.

The Chicago public health commissioner, dr. Allison Arwady told reporters that black city residents were already living on average about 8.8 years less than their white counterparts.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the coronavirus is “a devastating black Chicago”.

He said city inspectors would be sent to stores to make sure everyone adhered to social distancing guidelines.

Mayor Lightfoot also raised the possibility of curfews in areas where people gathered outside liquor stores, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

What is the national image?

Although the coronavirus has been called the “great equalizer”, the data suggest that vulnerability to infection may vary by neighborhood.

In Michigan, African Americans represent 14% of the population, but account for 33% of coronavirus cases and 41% of deaths, according to data from the state’s health department.

White residents account for approximately 23% of Michigan registered cases and 28% of deaths, according to the data.

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Detroit, Michigan is about 80% black and the city, along with the surrounding suburbs, accounts for about 80% of confirmed coronavirus cases.

A similar disparity emerged in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the most segregated cities in the United States.

African Americans made up nearly half of the nearly 1,000 cases in Milwaukee County since last Friday and 81% of its 27 deaths, despite blacks accounting for 26% of the population, according to a ProPublica study.

In the hard-hit Louisiana, over 70% of the people who died of Covid-19 are black, despite the fact that African Americans make up 32% of the population of the Gulf state.

About 40% of Louisiana’s coronavirus deaths occurred in the New Orleans area, where most residents are black.

Health officials have previously claimed that Big Easy residents suffer from obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates that are higher than the national average, making them more vulnerable to Covid-19.

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Reuters

What’s behind the disparity in Chicago?

Mayor Lightfoot said that diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease are “widespread” in black communities.

Dr Arwady told reporters that even if everyone in the city had access to a doctor, “we would still see significant health disparities due to food deserts and the lack of viable roads.”

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Dr Cameron Webb, an African American doctor who is running for Congress in the US state of Virginia, told BBC News that the racial and economic disparities in the United States had been magnified by the pandemic.

“It really exposes our company’s fault lines,” he said.

Councilor Jason Ervin, who chairs the Chicago Council’s black caucus, told the Chicago Tribune that “non-compliance rates in some parts of the city with residence orders” could also contribute to the statistics.

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