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Health

Health Expert Says Rate Of COVID-19 Among People Of Color Shows How Inequality Can Impact Health

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Inequality makes some communities more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 than others. In Michigan, the disease has disproportionately impacted black residents, who account for 32 percent of the state’s cases and 41 percent of the state’s deaths despite making up only 14 percent of the state’s population.

While there are more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Ingham County’s white population, the prevalence of the disease is three times more common among African Americans.

Renee Canaday is the CEO of the Michigan Public Health Institute and a member of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

During a press briefing with the county’s health department Tuesday, she said those numbers demonstrate how inequality and institutional racism can impact health.

“What we see in this pattern within COVID is really just a representation of the same pattern that we see in infant mortality, that we see in heart disease [and] that we see in diabetes.”

In Ingham County, African Americans make up 26 percent of total cases compared, but the prevalence of the disease within the African American community is roughly three times than that of the white community.

“We believe that race is really measuring a social condition and not just a personal characteristic,” said Canady.

She says the task force is focused on immediate solutions like increasing access to testing and primary care while also looking at systematic changes that can be implemented once the pandemic is over.

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