I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID

Health officials and political leaders in recent days have sounded the alarm that COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt African Americans, with the black community accounting for about 68% of deaths in Chicago and about 73% in Milwaukee County.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams on Tuesday addressed the higher risk for COVID-19 in the African American community, responding to troubling death rates in Chicago, Milwaukee and elsewhere.

“When you look at being black in America, number one, people unfortunately are more likely to be of low socieoconomt status, which makes it harder to social distance,” Adams said on CBS “This Morning. “Number two, we know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease.”

“I’ve shared myself, personally, that I have high blood pressure. That I have heart disease and spent a week in the ICU due to a heart condition. That I actually have asthma, and I’m prediabetic,” Adams said. “And so I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America, and I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID. It’s why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”

“We need to take this serious. It can be deadly in people who have pre-existing conditions,” Dr. Nkem Iroegbu, chief medical officer at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, says. “And in the African American community especially, we have seen that the outcomes tend to be worse.”

Dr. Iroegbu says it’s important to stay home and practice social distancing if at all possible, even if you’re young and healthy. That means leaving at least six feet of space between you and other people if you do go out. And wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time after touching surfaces.

“The coronavirus infection is spread through person-to-person contact, especially through droplets when the infected person coughs or sneezes, but can also be spread through contact with objects that have been contaminated,” Dr. Iroegbu says.

You could be carrying the virus and not know it, making your actions a danger to less healthy people. You might feel fine, but others could suffer a great deal if they catch COVID-19 from you.

If you think you might have symptoms of COVID-19, don’t go to the hospital immediately. You can click here to check your symptoms online, find out more about the impact of a national testing shortage and learn what actions to take next.

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