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Increased Corona Risk for African Americans : Why black people are so at risk in the US

The numbers of individual cities and states suggest it: The corona virus apparently hits African Americans particularly hard in the United States. Nationwide statistics are still lacking, but Washington is also looking at the appalling numbers at certain hot spots with concern. The head of the US Supreme Health Authority Jerome Adams confirmed on Tuesday that there is an increased risk for blacks of developing the virus, being hospitalized and dying from it.

US President Donald Trump also said: "We see strong evidence that African Americans are affected to a far greater extent than other citizens of our country."

According to calculations by the Washington Post, areas where the majority of African Americans live reported three times the infection rate and almost six times the number of deaths compared to the predominantly "white" regions.

However, the lists do not always reveal the ethnic affiliation of the infected. The government wants to change that as soon as possible: Trump announced on Tuesday that "in the next two or three days" corresponding statistics will probably be published.

The situation is particularly noticeable in cities like Chicago and Detroit

But a sad picture already emerges from the data available. Blacks make up 32 percent of the population in southern Louisiana. But of the people who died as a result of the virus, 70 percent are African American. In the capital Washington, 46 percent of the population are African American, but 58 percent of the dead.

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In Illinois, where the population is 14 percent African American, 42 percent of the dead are black. The situation in Chicago is particularly frightening: around 70 percent of the coronavirus deaths in this city are African-Americans, with a population of 30 percent.

"These numbers take your breath away," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot a few days ago. "This is a call to all of us to act."

In Michigan, which, along with New York and New Jersey, was one of the hotspots of the crisis, African Americans account for 33 percent of the cases and around 40 of the fatalities, but only 14 percent of the population.

However, Detroit is particularly having an impact: In this city, almost four fifths of the population are Afro-American, more than a third of them live in poverty.

The reasons: poverty, poor health care, social disadvantage

Poverty also appears to be one of the main reasons for this distribution. Along with social disadvantage and inadequate health care. What is certain is that poverty-related African Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, which in turn make coronavirus infection much more dangerous.

Background to the coronavirus:

"We know that blacks have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and lung disease," said senior US medical doctor Adams, who is himself an African American, at the daily corona briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Adams also said he had high blood pressure, asthma and a heart problem. "I symbolize what it means to grow up poor and black in America."

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The director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, also said conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are more common among African Americans than other groups. Such pre-existing conditions made a transfer to the intensive care unit more likely. One possible consequence of a corona infection is the respiratory disease Covid-19.

The crisis shows how unacceptable these differences are, said Fauci. "There is nothing we can do about that in this situation," except that African Americans must now be given the best possible care in order to avoid complications.

The crisis intensifies injustice

Although the problem is well known, ethnic differences are still great in many parts of America. For example, poorer parts of the city with a high percentage of blacks have fewer doctors and less well-equipped hospitals.

Health insurance for employees in service professions with low wages is worse than for other employees. Millions of US citizens have no health insurance or are underinsured. They are also tested significantly less often.

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Poor people use public transport more often, where the risk of infection is higher than in their own vehicle. Otherwise, "social distancing", which is supposed to slow down the spread of the virus, is much more difficult for them to adhere to. Their jobs are often more precarious, working from home is usually not possible.

Since many will lose or have already lost their jobs due to the crisis, the problem will become even more pressing in the near future. On Thursday, the Ministry of Labor said that 6.6 million people have registered as unemployed again in the past week. This means that more than 16 million people across the country have lost their jobs within three weeks. The social consequences will be enormous.

As of Thursday morning (local time) there were more than 430,000 confirmed infections with the novel corona virus in the United States, according to researchers from the American Johns Hopkins University. Around 15,000 people across the country have already died as a result of the pandemic.

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