70% of COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana are African-American; sheds new light on old issue

Local News

 BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33/FOX 44) – New numbers show a large majority of COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana are African-American.

Numbers released by the Louisiana Department of Health show 582 Coronavirus 19 deaths reported in Louisiana. 70 percent of them are African-American. The virus is killing this group at a higher rate than others.

“It’s sad. All the people that’s dying,” expressed Baton Rouge resident Gerald Anderson

“It’s scary,” said Baton Rouge resident Willie Lawrence.

Young or old, there’s concern about the Coronavirus.

Those deaths have been caused by underlying issues like hypertension and diabetes. Now it’s shining a new light on a long standing issue here in Louisiana.

“Pandemics like this virus or catastrophies like Hurricane Katrina tend to reveal the fiber of the community and tend to show where there may be some inadequacies,” said Dr. Rani Whitfield with Our Lady of the Lake.

Dr. Whitfield said these numbers highlight major health disparaties in Louisiana.

“These African-American patients that are dying probably were people who were living paycheck to paycheck in some instances, less likely to have paid time off or sick leave and are less likely to be able to work from home. So they’re putting themselves in a postition to where they can be exposed to the virus,” said Dr. Whitfield.

Dr. Whitfield said if something’s not done soon more people will die.

“If you don’t have to come out, don’t come out. Stay home,” Lawrence said.

Anderson added, “It’s real simple. Just three words: stay at home.”

Dr. Whitfield says there is now a larger dialogue about health equity in communities across the nation.

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