ANNAPOLIS, Md. (ABC7/Associated Press) — The first release of COVID-19 racial data in Maryland and D.C. shows that the virus has had a massive impact on African Americans in the jurisdictions.
Despite the most recent Census population estimates for the state of Maryland showing that the population is nearly 60% white and about 31% black or African American, the available numbers show that 2,064 of the state's 6,185 cases of COVID-19 are among African Americans, compared with 1,540 cases among whites.
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African Americans also represent 55 of the state's 138 coronavirus-related deaths, compared with 39 deaths among white residents.
It should be noted that data was not available for 1,354 of the cases and 21 of the deaths in Maryland.
“We knew this would be an epidemic that would hit our community especially hard," Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said at a Thursday press conference. Prince George’s County leads the state in cases (1,500) and deaths (35).
County Health officer Dr. Ernest Carter says there are several reasons for this trend.
“What we know about people of color is they have a higher rate of diabetes we have significant health concerns and this virus doesn’t care what color you are,” he said.
Alsobrooks also points out that the community suffers from a lack of quality grocery stores and healthy eating options, which contributes to poor health.
“Now the rest of the world know what our reality is every day,” she said. “If you live in a community that is poor, black, brown or impoverished in America, there are certain health outcomes that you experience every day.”
In D.C., where the African American and white populations both make up about 45% of residents, data released Thursday shows that about 62.5 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the city are among African Americans, and 35.6 percent of the total cases. Similar to Maryland, though, racial data is unknown for a large number of cases.
Democratic lawmakers and community leaders in cities hard-hit by the pandemic have been sounding the alarm over what they see as a disturbing trend of the virus killing African Americans at a higher rate, along with a lack of overall information about the race of victims as the nation’s death toll mounts.
Among the cities where black residents have been hard-hit: New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.
“Everywhere we look, the coronavirus is devastating our communities,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.