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Racial disparities in coronavirus deaths are now coming to light due to the overwhelming amount of African-Americans dying from COVID-19.
Weeks after warnings from lawmakers and health officials, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams confirmed Tuesday (April 7) that African-Americans were at greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. "I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID, which is why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread,” he said. Adams explained that Black Americans with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are more prone to having the virus in addition to lack of access to proper health care.
In an op-ed for The New York Times titled "The Racial Time Bomb in the Covid-19 Crisis," Charles M. Blow compared the growing concern to the early days of the H.I.V./AIDS crisis affecting people of color. "On some level, H.I.V. is ravaging the South because Southern states have made a policy decision not to care in a sufficient way because the people suffering are poor and black," he said while pointing out the stark similarities in how both life-changing moments haven't provided the demographic with the right resources.
Numbers between race and ethnicity for the virus are limited but Stat News reports Black people in Illinois, made up 29% of confirmed cases and 41% of deaths as of Monday morning, but only make up 15% of the state’s population. ProPublica also points out how Black people make up nearly half of the 941 cases in Milwaukee County and 81% of its 27 deaths–but the population is 26% African-American.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distributes data on age, gender, and location of COVID-19 patients but not their race or ethnicity. On Tuesday, CDC spokesman Scott Pauley responded to the data about race and ethnicity around the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, case report forms are often missing important data, including race and ethnicity," he said. "To address this and other data gaps, supplementary surveillance systems are being stood up to better capture ethnicity and race data, as well as other key demographic or clinical information.”
In a letter written by Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren with Ayanna Pressley and Robin L. Kelly to Health and Human Services (HHS), the group called for the correct information to avoid the gap from getting larger.
“The C.D.C. is currently failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information of patients tested for and affected by Covid-19," the letter reads. "Our concerns echo those from some physicians: that decisions to test individuals for the novel coronavirus may be ‘more vulnerable to the implicit biases that every patient and medical professional carry around with them,’ potentially causing ‘black communities and other underserved groups … [to] disproportionately mis[s] out on getting tested for Covid-19. Although Covid-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”
It was also announced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Melissa DeRosa, the top aide for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, promised to release data that reflects ethnicity and race as well. But as DeRosa revealed, hospitals in the Albany area haven't reported on the race of COVID-19 victims.
“The hospitals actually don’t report the race information directly to the state,” said DeRosa via The New York Post. “So what we end up doing on the back-end is calling the coroners’ offices around the state, after the death has been reported, so there has been a lag.“We understand people want that information. We want that information, too.”
Tory Lanez had the most popular show on Instagram Live and now it’s gone, temporarily. After peaking with over 350,000 viewers, Instagram shut down Lanez’s popular Quarantine Radio show on Tuesday (April 7).
The Toronto native is blocked from using Instagram until April 14. “I can’t go on right now they won’t let me… they [don’t] want me to win damn b,” Lanez captioned an Instagram post detailing the weeklong digital quarantine.
He also encouraged fans to spread the hashtag #FreeTory until he’s allowed back on Instagram Live.
View this post on Instagram
THIS IS ME CURRENTLY .... 😭😭😢😢😢 even if I wanted to ..... I won’t be back on quarantine radio till the 14th ..... 😪😪😥 ... EVERYBODY HASHTAG #FreeTory SO I CAN GET OUT OF HERE MAN !!!! lmao Instagram stop hating . We can be friends man ! 📸: @midjordan
Although Lanez created a separate Quarantine Radio account, the plan to hop back on Instagram Live was abruptly foiled after reaching 100,000 viewers, he explained in a follow-up post.View this post on Instagram
Over it’s short but memorable run, Quarantine Radio welcomed a long list of guests including Drake, Timbaland, Chris Brown, DMX, T-Pain, and a bunch of NSFW content.
In other news, Lanez apologized on Tuesday for a year-old tweet calling himself the “best rapper alive right now.” But it appears that he may have had a change of heart as he apparently deleted the apology and added a promo for his forthcoming The New Toronto 3 mixtape out later this week.
HOWEVER ..... THE NEW TORONTO 3 COMES OUT IN 2 DAYS ...... AND I AM SPITTING ON THAT !!!!!!!! 😈🔥😈🔥😈🔥😈🔥😈
— Tory Lanez (@torylanez) April 7, 2020
An inmate at Rikers Island awaiting a parole hearing has died from COVID-19 complications, reports several news outlets, including New York Times.
Michael Tyson, 53, had been jailed on Rikers Island since Feb.28. On March 26, Tyson had been moved from the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island to Bellevue Hospital, where he died from COVID-19. Tyson’s name was among the 100 detainees from The Bronx held on parole violations for whom the Legal Aid Society has been seeking immediate release, via a lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on April 3.
“This tragedy would have been entirely avoidable if only Governor Cuomo had directed [the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)] to act decisively from the outset of this epidemic to release incarcerated New Yorkers who, like Mr. Tyson, were especially vulnerable to the virus,” Tina Luongo, the attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Legal Aid Society, said in a press statement.
Tyson was one the 100 inmates named in a lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court by the organization on April 3. The lawsuit claims that inmates are being held for non-criminal parole violations. Names of individuals in the lawsuit are either elders or have underlying health issues. Tyson was listed as among “the highest risk group” due to his age and unspecified health issues, according to a letter cited therein from Correctional Health Services.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the detainee’s family in their time of grief. The safety and well-being of those in our custody remains our number one priority,” Peter Thorne, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections (DOC) said in a statement sent to TIME.
TIME also reports that a 273 inmates on Rikers Island have tested positive for the virus. Also, 321 jailers and 53 health professionals within NYC's jail system have tested positive for COVID-19, and four jailers have died.
During a press conference, Mayor Bill De Blasio said that 900 inmates have been released from NYC's jail system, with more releases in the works.