African Americans more likely to die from COVID-19, data shows

As the U.S. confronts the most difficult week yet in the fight against the coronavirus, there are alarming new statistics that show the devastating and disproportionate toll of the pandemic on black communities.


"Those numbers take your breath away. They really do."

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week said 72% of the people who have died from COVID-19 are African American, even though they make up 30% of the population.


"When we talk about equity and inclusion, they're not just nice motions, they are an imperative that we must embrace as a city. And we see this even more urgently when we look at these numbers and this disparity. It's unacceptable.

Data released by states is also painting a grim picture.

In Louisiana - one of the states that has been hit hard by the pandemic, African Americans make up only a third of the population.

Yet they are dying from the virus at a vastly higher rate.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LOUISIANA GOVERNOR, JOHN BEL EDWARDS, SAYING:"Disturbingly this information is going to show you that slightly more than 70% of the deaths in Louisiana are of African Americans. I'm sorry, slightly more than 70%. And so that deserves more attention and we're going to have to dig into that and see what we can do."

And in Michigan, where 14% of the population is African American, those residents account for 40% of the state's reported deaths.

Experts say the data reflects the long-standing disparities in health and medical care access afflicting communities of color.

For example, one expert said African Americans are more likely to have underlying conditions, due to environmental and economic factors, leaving them particularly vulnerable to getting severely sick from COVID-19.