As COVID-19 cases grow in the African American community, so do some dangerous falsehoods
You might not have heard of Waka Flocka Flame. Neither had I until the 33-year-old black rap artist recently declared that he and other people of color are immune to the coronavirus.
"It's fake," Waka Flocka, formerly known as Juaquin James Malphurs, said during an interview in March on Los Angeles' REAL 92.3 radio. "Minorities can't catch it, we straight."
No, we not. Ironically and tragically, one of the biggest stories of the past week is how the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus kills not only all races, creeds and ethnicities but kills black people at a higher rate than other groups.
The first COVID-19 patient to die in Illinois, for example, was Patricia Frieson, 61, a black retired nurse from the South Side of Chicago, followed nine days later by her sister, Wanda Bailey, 63, of Crete.
So much for the notion that black people can't catch this deadly bug. Black Chicagoans have been dying at six times the rate of white residents, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office and the city's Department of Public Health. African Americans make up about 68% of the city's deaths although they make up only about 30% of the city's total population.
Black residents make up only 23% of Cook County but account for 58% of the COVID-19 deaths, according to a report from WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station.
Similar numbers have been reported nationwide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some limited data from 14 states on Wednesday as political pressure to do more reporting by race and ethnicity has increased.
Although the racial breakdown from the population in the report was 59% white, 14% Latino and 18% black, 45% of hospitalized coronavirus patients were white and 8% were Latino, according to the CDC, while 33% were black, further evidence of disproportionate impact by COVID-19.
At Tuesday's White House briefing, infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the health disparities that have long plagued black communities are now leading "to a bad outcome with the coronavirus."