NAACP, Congressional leaders shed light on COVID-19’s disproportionate effects on African Americans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In some states and cities hit hard by COVID-19, African Americans are dying from complications of the virus at disproportionately higher rates.

Tennessee is just starting to release demographic data for coronavirus cases. The City of Chicago reports more than half of cases and 70 percent of deaths are African Americans even though they only make up 30 percent of the city’s population. The situation is similar in Louisiana where 70 percent of the people who have died are black, despite making up only 33 percent of the population.

The NAACP and BET hosted a virtual town hall Wednesday with lawmakers and health experts to discuss these disparities.

“If you look at the economic impact, it is directly related to the health outcomes that we are seeing right now,” said California Congresswoman Karen Bass. “The fact that so many of us work in the service industry and are considered essential workers plus the co-morbidity health factors that impact us all contribute to our health status.”

Rep. Bass and the Congressional Black Caucus are calling on the CDC to release complete demographic data about cases, as well as targeted and rapid testing for the most at-risk.

“We know we have hypertension and diabetes and that leads to it having such a negative impact on us, but because we are the most exposed that impacts us as well,” Rep. Bass said. “We’re concerned about losing our churches and our small businesses.”

Congress is working on a second relief bill and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said he and others will be pushing for better health care access.

“These statistics are just unnerving. We have got to make sure that we do what is necessary to expand community health centers and we want to do that in the next CARES package,” Rep. Clyburn said.

Rep. Clyburn said the goal is to have a community health center within commuting distance of every person in the country. Another push will be to expand broadband so rural communities can better participate in telemedicine.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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