As a clearer picture emerges of COVID-19’s decidedly deadly toll on black Americans, leaders are demanding a reckoning of the systemic policies they say have made many blacks far more vulnerable to the virus—including inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity, the AP reports. A growing chorus of medical professionals, activists, and political figures is pressuring the federal government to not just release comprehensive racial demographic data of the country’s coronavirus victims, but also to outline clear strategies to blunt the devastation on blacks and other communities of color. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first breakdown of COVID-19 case data by race, showing that 30% of patients whose race was known were black.
The federal data was missing racial information for 75% of all cases, however, and did not include any demographic breakdown of deaths. Health conditions that exist at higher rates in the black community—obesity, diabetes and asthma—make blacks more susceptible to the virus. They also are more likely to be uninsured, and often report that medical professionals take their ailments less seriously. "It's America’s unfinished business—we're free, but not equal," said civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson. "There's a reality check that has been brought by the coronavirus, that exposes the weakness and the opportunity." Groups representing African Americans are calling for better COVID-19 testing and treatment data as well as better protections for incarcerated populations.
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