Chicago’s rate of coronavirus deaths, illness among Black residents alarms U.S. cities

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Chicago’s mayor pledged an aggressive public health campaign aimed at the city’s black and brown communities Monday amid alarm that an overwhelming number of African American residents were among the people to die of COVID-19 in early data.

Black residents accounted for 72 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 complications in the city and 52 per cent of positive tests for the coronavirus, despite making up only 30 per cent of the city’s population, according to the city’s public health agency.

Public health experts in Chicago said the trend was unsurprising to anyone familiar with decades-old barriers to health care in the geographically divided city; residents of the city’s South and West sides historically have poorer access to health care, higher poverty rates and jobs that require them to keep showing up while others are able to work from home.

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Similar conditions mark other large cities with large black populations that are considered hot spots for the coronavirus, including New York, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans. Figures released Monday by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services showed African Americans, who make up 14 per cent of the state population,

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