By: Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO for March of Dimes;

COVID-19 Is Even Deadlier If You’re Black, And I Want To Change That

– About a month ago, one of my relatives contracted novel virus and survived. One of my dearest friends also got COVID-19, and they did not. It was devastating.

I wish I could say that I’m surprised to personally know two people who were infected with the virus, but sadly, I’m not. I’m an African American woman, and people of color are disproportionately affected by this pandemic, with both higher contraction rates and higher death rates.

Take Milwaukee, for example, where 73 percent of people who die from the novel coronavirus are African American, yet African American people only make up 26 percent of the population. That isn’t just random. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the United States, and our healthcare system has failed to serve an underserved community that needs more support, not less.

In the United States, we have a healthcare system that has historically failed to adequately serve people of color. The novel coronavirus pandemic is uncovering many of the systemic failures in our healthcare system that have persisted for generations.

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Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO for March of Dimes

Stacey D. Stewart is the President and CEO for March of Dimes, where she heads the organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s strategy, vision and operations.

Stewart came to March of Dimes from United Way Worldwide, where she held several positions, most recently serving as U.S. President of United Way, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization. There she provided strategic direction for more than 1,000 local United Ways. Stewart was also responsible for United Way’s national efforts in education, financial stability and health as well as guiding efforts to enhance the brand and grow revenue. Stewart spearheaded the transformation of United Way from a pass-through fundraiser to a leading organization for local community impact. Prior to becoming U.S. President, Stewart served as Executive Vice President, Community Impact Leadership and Learning. In this role, Stewart developed global partnerships to advance community impact in more than 40 countries.