Covid-19 scare: African Americans are more at risk, says Trump. But why?

Topics USA | Donald Trump | Coronavirus

US President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in Washington | Photo: AP/PTI
The members of the African American community were more susceptible to coronavirus, according to the latest Covid-19 testing data from the ground, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday.

"We are actively engaging on the problem of increased impacts. There's a real problem, and it is showing up very strongly in our data on the African-American community," Trump told reporters during the daily press conference of the White House Task Force on coronavirus. "The US has so far conducted 1.87 million tests", he said.

"We are just seeing tremendous evidence that African Americans are affected at a far greater percentage number than other citizens of our country," he said in response to a question.

"We are doing everything in our power to address this challenge. It is a tremendous challenge, is terrible and provide support to African-American citizens of this country who are going through a lot, but it has been disproportional. They're getting hit very, very hard, in fact", Trump said.

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Dr Anthony Fauci, Director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institute of Health, said the African American community traditionally have been disproportionately afflicted by diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma.

Unfortunately, when you look at the predisposing conditions that lead to a bad outcome with coronavirus, the things that get people into ICUs that require intubation and often lead to death, they are just those very co-morbidities that are unfortunately disproportionately prevalent in the African-American population, he said.

We are very concerned about that. It's very sad. It's nothing we can do about it right now except to try and give them the best possible care to avoid those complications, Dr Fauci told reporters at the news conference.


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— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 7, 2020

Why African Americans are dying at higher rates from COVID-19

Experts say blacks are disproportionately impacted by underlying health conditions linked to poverty, face discrimination in medical care, and are more likely to work jobs that require them to leave their home.

"We know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease," the nation's top doctor, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CBS News on Tuesday.

These chronic illnesses, which are in turn linked to poverty and structural racism, can lead to more serious forms of the Covid-19 disease.

Adams, who is himself black and has high blood pressure and asthma, added: "I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America.

"And I, and many black Americans, are at higher risk for Covid."

Sixty-eight percent of coronavirus deaths in Chicago have been among African Americans, who make up just 30 percent of the city's population.

"Those numbers take your breath away," the city's mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday at a coronavirus briefing. "This is a call to action for all of us." The trend is repeated in North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and the capital Washington.

Doctor Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told AFP the issue was also linked to social class, with black people more likely to work jobs deemed essential that expose them to potential infection.

"That population is more public facing," he said. "More bus drivers, more people taking public transportation to work, more people providing services in nursing homes, more folks working in grocery stores."

The problem is compounded by implicit and explicit bias that African Americans face in the medical system.

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