BOSTON — New data shows African Americans are dying at an alarming rate from COVID-19.
And there’s a push to track racial and ethnic demographics in every state as it relates to coronavirus infections.
There were over 12,000 coronavirus related deaths reported in the U.S. on Tuesday, and some states are reporting a disproportionate percentage of African Americans are dying from the disease.
A March study from Lawrence-based biotech Rubix Life Sciences found that African Americans with symptoms like cough and fever were less likely to be given a coronavirus test.
“There’s genetic anomalies that happen between different population groups. They affect certain groups much more gravely than the others as we’re seeing in Chicago and we’re seeing in Louisiana, as we’re seeing in Virginia and other states as well,” said Reginald Swift, founder of Rubix Life Sciences.
Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, both Massachusetts Democrats, sent a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services to collect racial and ethnic data on testing and treatment for the virus.
“This virus does not discriminate and it’s so critical that we make sure our response is one that is equitable and is responsive to all, and they’re already collecting race and gender and so now we’re asking that they collect and disaggregate data in real time for all communities of color,” Pressley said.
In Michigan, African Americans accounted for 41 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths and makeup just 14 percent of the population.
In Illinois, 40 percent of deaths from the virus were black when they make up just 14.6 percent of the population.
And in Louisiana, 70 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 were African American. They make up just 32 percent of the total population.
As of Tuesday morning, just nine states and Washington, D.C. included the racial breakdown of their COVID-19 cases.
Massachusetts tracks gender, age and county, but not race. Neither does the CDC.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is asking to have the data reviewed.
The ACLU and Lawyers for Civil Rights have joined the call.
Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a public records requests for coronavirus data. And Lawyers for Civil Rights says they will sue the state if necessary.
“If this is killing Latin X and black people, we have a right to know that and prepare our families and our communities with the appropriate information. We need to be armed with the data,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, an attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights.
© 2020 Cox Media Group