Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Coronavirus Watch--“When white America has a cold, black America has the flu.” This long-held adage has been validated by decades of statistics. The health of blacks is worse across nearly every health indicator from preventable hospitalizations to life expectancy. The causes are both simple and complicated. Simple because it’s obvious that those with less health insurance, income, employment, education, stable housing, internet access, health literacy, etc. have poorer health outcomes. Complicated because many of these social determinants are rooted in prejudice, racism, and social injustice. Moreover, unequal medical treatment (another important factor) reflects deeply seeded implicit biases. Albeit troubling, it’s not surprising that in places like Chicago, NYC, Milwaukee, and Louisiana more blacks & Latinos have died from COVID-19 than others, likely reflecting higher rates of pre-existing conditions (eg, hypertension), delayed presentation to the hospital, off-target messaging, varying use of face coverings, or a combination. COVID-19 has exposed many chinks in the armor of our dis-ease care system. Tackling these in the post-pandemic period would be heroic.