The President and those others who ignore COVID-19 to focus on the out of context economic news, preserving Confederate statues, destroying the Affordable Care Act, commuting prison sentences of felonious associates, and a political presidential campaign are doing so at the expense of more American lives. The data shows that a disproportionate share of the lives affected are people of color. People with preexisting ailments, those who live in crowded conditions, and who are uninsured are affected by COVID-19 with greater frequency. Our organization continues to call for the strengthening, not the tearing down, of the ACA. The southern states are now being affected by this current surge and notably 91% of the counties with Black populations greater than 13% are in the South. The “Color of Coronavirus Project” has been able to document the ethnicity of 91% of the COVID-19 deaths. That research reveals that Black folk are killed by COVID-19 at 2.3 times the rate of White Americans and the disparity increases to 3.8 times when it is age adjusted. To put it in more stark terms, if Blacks were killed at the same rate as Whites, we would have nearly 13,000 more African Americans alive today.
Two months ago, we asked the question “Why are they willing to accept so much Death”? Though the answer to this question remains unclear, we remain extremely concerned that our patients represent a disproportionate number of people infected. Since we posed that question it has become clear that COVID-19 can cause immediate and persisting affects even on those who do not die. Among these problems include strokes, blood clots, extremity amputations, chronic kidney and lung ailments, and involvement of other systems of the body. The President erroneously stated that 99% of people diagnosed do well. People of color are disproportionately represented among those who survive and suffer persisting problems.
As we continue to plead with the government to do more to protect people, we encourage citizens to do their parts. If you are in the vulnerable group (those with preexisting conditions) Stay HOME as much as possible. For all of us, Wash your hands (20 sec) frequently. Wear a mask when you must go away from home. Watch your distance and stay at least 6 feet from other people. Avoid indoor gatherings with people with whom you do not live as much as possible.
Clyde E. Henderson, MD
Cincinnati Medical Association