Like many mature and retired citizens, a year ago I was making plans for using some of the funds I had squirreled away for visiting places on my bucket list, and for escaping the predictably cold winters in the Midwest where I live. Little did I know that my plans would not only be put on hold, but that they might be completely abandoned, due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus sweeping the world. While listening to health experts, several things quickly became clear.
First, researchers and healthcare providers know very little about the effects of COVID-19. Second, there are no known effective medical treatments for the virus. Third, no national U.S. strategy exists for fighting the virus. Fourth, the virus has a disparate impact on Black Americans relative to both infection and death rates. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Blacks are significantly more likely to be infected, to be hospitalized, and to die from COVID-19. Blacks comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but make up 23% of all COVID-19 fatalities. Even with the challenges of incomplete data, a recent study by the Brookings Institute indicates that race gaps are even bigger than they appear. Among those aged 45 to 54 years, Blacks have a death rate six times higher than whites.