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