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African Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, nationwide data shows

African-Americans make up majority of Louisiana COVID-19 death rate
African-Americans make up majority of Louisiana COVID-19 death rate((Source: KPLC))
Updated: Apr. 10, 2020 at 12:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting minority populations across the nation, including South Carolina.

New demographic information released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) now shows us the race, gender and age of people infected with the coronavirus in our state, and those who have died.

Thursday, DHEC reported that of people who have the virus in the state, 54% are white and 38% are black.

Of the 67 people who have died in the state as of April 9, 46% are black, 41% are white and 13% are unknown.

According to the census, just 27% of South Carolinians are black and 68% are white.

It’s a disturbing trend seen across the country, including hot spots like Louisiana, where more than 700 people have died from the virus, and Chicago, where more than 500 people have died.

In Louisiana, 70% of the people who have died from COVID-19 complications are black, though the state’s population is only about 33% African American. In Chicago, those numbers are strikingly the same.

Health officials say these numbers show black communities are being hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus.

According to the CDC, African Americans make up roughly 33% of people hospitalized nationwide with the virus, but only 12% of the population.

Dr. Anthony Facui, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor, said the reason for the disparity is that underlying health conditions that can lead to severe coronavirus cases are more common among African Americans.

When we look at some of those predisposing conditions -- diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COPD, asthma -- South Carolina has a lot of residents who are at risk.

According to a report compiled by Quote Wizard, South Carolina ranks 15th most at risk in the U.S.

Analysts ranked the states by which had the highest number of seniors over 55 with at-risk health conditions.

Of that population in South Carolina, they found:

  • 23.2% have diabetes
  • 9% have cardiovascular disease
  • 13.4% have COPD
  • 9.2% have asthma

While South Carolina health officials are reporting the death count by race, gender and ethnicity, some states and agencies are not releasing that information.

The CDC has not released deaths by race or ethnicity at last check, but it does release information based on age and gender.

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