Fact or Fiction: African Americans and COVID-19

36% of S.C. COVID cases are in African Americans, who make up 27% of the population,
Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Early numbers in some cities show the new coronavirus is disproportionately infecting African Americans.

In Chicago, CBS News reported 70% of people who’ve died from the new coronavirus are African Americans, who make up just 30% of the city’s population.

Local lowcountry community activist Pastor Thomas Dixon has been posting his concerns about the spread of COVID in the African American community.

"There were early rumors put out that black people were not susceptible- that this would not harm them. So we have an entire community of people that were overlooking or ignoring warnings, not following guidelines, just business as usual," he said.

Those race myths have been reported as completely false but persist online.

In South Carolina, DHEC is reporting that 36% of COVID cases are in African Americans, who make up 27% of the population, according to demographic numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Much of the time, [minority populations] don't have access to quality healthcare, affordable healthcare," said Pastor Dixon. "Many are walking around with undiagnosed conditions, pre-existing conditions that this virus is just looking for in a host."

Expert Dr. Monica Peek, who studies health disparities at the University of Chicago Medicine, told CBS News "that African Americans are more likely to have underlying health conditions and still be working."

The article quoted her saying, "When the city puts out orders for people to shelter in place ... the grocery stores are open ... public transit is still open," she said. "And the people that are working in those jobs are primarily or disproportionately racial or ethnic minorities."

The U.S. Surgeon General also raised the alarm this week- saying African Americans are at higher risk for COVID-19.

"I believe what is yet to come in SC is nothing like we've seen. I pray I'm wrong. I truly pray I'm wrong," said Dixon.

His hope is that the world will be a better place with newfound compassion post-pandemic. “As we come out of this, hopefully that message will resonate in the hearts of everyone so because we realize the value of one another and interactions with one another.”

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