President’s Letter: African Americans Disproportionately Affected by Covid-19

by | Apr 10, 2020 | Advocacy, Health

The Los Angeles Urban League is working with our public, private and governmental partners to increase Covid-19 testing and to provide more healthcare resources to our communities. As more Covid-19 statistics on race start to come out across the nation we can see that, yet again, African Americans and other underserved communities of color are becoming infected by the Covid-19 virus and are dying from the virus at a disproportionately higher rate.

The high rates of infections and deaths among African American and other communities of color is the result of the structural racism that has impacted our communities through apathy, disrespect and disregard for and outright hostility toward our communities.

Persistent and rampant inequalities in education, financial security, environment, access to healthy foods, and basic healthcare have left our communities unnecessarily exposed to, and without the resources necessary to combat this pandemic. We have been woke to these realities for centuries, but our nation continues to hit the snooze button and African Americans and other communities of color remain the canaries in the coal mines, the most vulnerable to crises, like this pandemic.

We know that, once infected, our brothers and sisters are more likely to die due to already existing underlying health conditions. The Center for Disease Control (the “CDC”) has stated that those with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and asthma, are at higher risk of dying from Covid-19. CDC data also tells us that African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes, 20% more likely to have high blood pressure, and 30% more likely to be obese. The rate of lung disease in Black women is 34% higher than in White women.

As bad as these statistics may be, the true picture is undoubtedly worse because the number of people who have been tested is a small percentage of the population that has been exposed to this virus.  If we cannot measure the full impact of this pandemic, we cannot effectively manage it. We need data, transparency, and more testing in the communities that are being hit hardest. Poor neighborhoods and communities of color should not be the last to be tested or treated.

We must demand that our brothers and sisters who are more susceptible to Covid-19, are receiving the care that they need—those of us who are more likely to be unemployed, and if employed, more likely to hold lower wage jobs with limited or no paid sick leave or access to adequate healthcare; and yet are on the front lines where infections are more likely to occur, taking public transportation to reach essential food and supplies and residing in smaller homes or homeless shelters where there is little ability to sufficiently quarantine the sick or practice social distancing.

WE NEED FREE AND ACCESSIBLE TESTING AND TREATMENT NOW!

If we test only those with symptoms, it might be too late to stop the spread of this pandemic before it impacts everyone.

Call your city, state and federal representatives and ask about the status of free covid-19 testing for everyone.

Please support our advocacy efforts as we continue to fight for our communities.

With you in the Movement,

Michael Lawson
President & CEO
Los Angeles Urban League

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