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The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: Black people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Medical mistrust is just one reason.


Black people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than non-Black people in America, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. With more limited access to healthcare and accurate information, Black and Brown communities will continue to suffer from the virus that has already taken more than 473,000 lives in the U.S. alone.

The Tuskegee Study, from 1932-1972, is one reason the Black community harbors a deep mistrust of medical professionals. In the study, doctors informed over 600 Black men with and without syphilis that they were going to be treated for bad blood. This study was very unethical because the participants were not aware of what the study was for and it did not appear they were given the choice to quit the study. 

Related: [IU Black student leaders plan to take COVID-19 vaccine, encourage cautious peers]

While this mistrust of doctors is partially to blame for COVID-19 being heavily prevalent in the Black community, it is not the only reason. 

Black Americans are 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contributing factors to this include underlying conditions within the Black community like high blood pressure and complications associated with the disease. 

This, coupled with a lack of access to medical care and rising unemployment rates due to the pandemic has put Black Americans at a disadvantage.

In 2018 the rate of uninsured Black Americans was 11.5%, compared to white Americans, who were at 7.5%, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. The medication for this disease is estimated to cost almost $2,000 each year, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association Report. 

While Black people are more likely to have high blood pressure, they are also less likely to be insured, creating difficulty to access medication that could treat a preexisting condition.  

On Feb. 5, the American Council on Exercise hosted a panel online to discuss health equity, physical activity and public health during the pandemic. The panel was run via Zoom and included IU Director of Student Diversity Rory James. 

According to the panel’s host, President and Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant, Black Americans are 1.5 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white Americans. Additionally, Black people are three times more likely to die from the disease and four times more likely to be hospitalized, he said. 

James said chronic conditions within the African American community can have a negative effect on someone that’s also battling the coronavirus. 

“We think about chronic conditions, we think about hypertension, diabetes, obesity, asthma. We know that our bodies are already tasked with those chronic conditions,” James said. “If you are someone with those chronic conditions then COVID-19 is just not a good combination.”

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