April 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm EDT | by Michelle Siegel
Black Marylanders disproportionately impacted by coronavirus
(Image public domain)

Statistics indicate the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a disproportionate impact on black Marylanders.

While the U.S. Census Bureau estimates black residents make up slightly more than 30 percent of Maryland’s population, the Maryland Department of Health as of Thursday reports nearly 50 percent of the 12,502 Marylanders with confirmed coronavirus cases are black.

In comparison, despite the fact that white residents make up almost 60 percent of Maryland’s population, the MDH reports only 3,662 Marylanders who have tested positive for coronavirus are white. This figure represents less than 30 percent of the state’s confirmed cases.

Maryland state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County), the first openly gay man of Afro-Latino descent to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly, highlighted the fact that many of Maryland’s hardest-hit areas are communities predominantly populated by people of color, such as Prince George’s County.

“We know that black people — not just in our state, but nationally — are being impacted by this pandemic, because of structural racism, because of decades of disinvestment and disregard for the lives and the health of black Marylanders and black Americans,” Acevero told the Washington Blade. “And what this pandemic is showing is the toll that that is having on our communities as a result of that disinvestment — as a result of that care gap.”

Acevero suggested to begin to confront this disparity, the federal and state governments needed to take action to ensure aggressive testing in the zip codes most impacted and provide personal protective equipment to frontline first responders and essential workers, many of whom are people of color.

“We are being intentional about where we are allocating resources and where we’re mobilizing personnel,” Acevero said. “And we have to ensure that those communities most impacted — that is, black communities, black and brown communities — that we are mobilizing resources and personnel to those communities, so that they’re not suffering any further.”

The disparities in Maryland have been seen in other jurisdictions around the county.

The D.C. Department of Health on Thursday reported 50 percent of the 3,361 people in D.C. who have tested positive for the coronavirus are black. The D.C. Department of Health also notes 81 percent of the 139 Washingtonians who have died from the virus were black.

The Louisiana Department of Health notes 56 percent of the 1,601 people who have died from the coronavirus in the state were black.

The Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center as of Friday indicated there were 883,826 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 50,000 deaths. Globally, there were more than 2,780,000 confirmed cases and nearly 195,000 deaths.

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