As the number of deaths from COVID-19 rises across the country, Chicago Black residents are dying at disproportionately high rates, according to recent data from WBEZ.
There have been 86 recorded COVID-19 deaths in Chicago and 61 of them – or 70 percent – were Black residents. Black people make up ]29 percent of the population in the third-largest city in the U.S.
The first COVID-19 death in Illinois was a 61-year-old Black woman from Chicago named Patricia Frieson.
“The majority of the Black COVID-19 patients who died had underlying health conditions including respiratory problems and diabetes. Eighty-one percent of them had hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes or both,” WBEZ reported.
In Chicago’s Cook County, where Black residents comprise 23 percent of the population, they account for 58 percent of the COVID-19 deaths, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
As of April 4, 107 of Cook County’s 183 deaths from COVID-19 were Black victims.
“It’s disturbing and upsetting, but not surprising,” said Dr. Linda Rae Murray, a health policy professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This is just a reflection of the facts that we already know about these pandemics.”
Chicago’s Black communities have historically been disproportionately affected by major health-related issues such as poverty, environmental pollution, segregation, and limited access to medical care.
High numbers of Black people being affected by COVID-9 isn’t limited to Chicago. It’s happening throughout Illinois. While Black residents make up 14 percent of the population in Illinois, they account for 38 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Although the federal government hasn’t released any official statistics regarding the racial breakdown of coronavirus cases and deaths, several cities and states have started to compile their own data.
Illinois isn’t the only city where Black residents dominate the number of cases. This is the case across the country.
In New York, the U.S. epicenter for the coronavirus, low-income neighborhoods with large immigrant populations have been hit the hardest. In Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, 81 percent of people who died from the virus have been Black residents, according to a ProPublica investigation. Black people represent 26 percent of the Milwaukee County’s population. In Michigan, Black people represent 12 percent of the population but 40 percent of those dead from the virus are Black people — many of them in Detroit, Block Club Chicago reported.
Written by Ann Brown