When the COVID-19 pandemic started a low number of cases in Africa gave the African-American community a sense that the virus would affect them less.

However, as the data starts to emerge it’s becoming clear that inequalities in terms of resources, access to services, discrimination, and messaging that doesn’t connect with our communities, are all creating a ticking time bomb for COVID-19 disproportionally affecting Black Americans.

So far, in Michigan and Illinois more than one-third of cases of COVID-19 are Black people, even though they only make up about 14% of the population in both states.

This problem could grow, those most vulnerable to severe effects of the novel coronavirus are people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure both of which have high incidence rates in the Black American population. Other vulnerable groups include low-income communities where people have no choice but to continue going to work, and who also don’t have the resources to receive adequate medical care once they get sick.

Photo by Bret Kavanaugh on Unsplash

In addition, a medical bias where doctors tend to under-diagnose and under-treat black patients because they do not trust what the patients are saying. This is highlighted in the case of 25-year-old Bassey Offion who died when doctors refused to give him the test for COVID-19 despite showing multiple symptoms.

As cases in the United States continue to rise, with now more than 250,000 cases and 6,500 deaths, we need more data to be able to say exactly how much more this virus is affecting our communities. As always, it’s up to our communities to advocate for ourselves and our health and to tell our neighbors (from 6 ft apart) to take care, wash their hands and stay home if they can.

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