by Monday at 6:35 pm•
Not every public health agency is publishing racial breakdowns of novel coronavirus infection rates (ahem, Washington State Department of Health), but the early data from those who are report that black and brown people are contracting COVID-19 at disproportionally high rates.
From a ProPublica analysis: "As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black...In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14% black, African Americans made up 35% of cases and 40% of deaths as of Friday morning."
From an analysis in the Atlantic: "In Illinois, the infection rate among black Americans is twice their percentage of the state population. In North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, black people comprise 32.9 percent of the residents, but 43.9 of the confirmed coronavirus cases, as of March 30."
Why this is happening is nobody's guess. ProPublica quotes Harvard physician and epidemiologist Dr. Camara Jones, who says: "COVID is just unmasking the deep disinvestment in our communities, the historical injustices and the impact of residential segregation."
This bad news reminded me of a good poem by Seattle poet Quenton Baker, which was published in a special new quarantine column for The Volta, a journal edited by a bunch of Seattle- and Arizona-based poets. You can read the rest of Baker's poem whenever he publishes Ballast, which is inspired partly by the 1841 slave revolt on the Creole. While you wait, pick up This Glittering Republic from your local bookstore.
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