ATLANTA — Shocking new numbers from the CDC show the toll the coronavirus is taking on Georgia, particularly African Americans.
Researchers looked at COVID-19 patients at eight Georgia hospitals - seven in metro Atlanta and one in south Georgia.
More than 80 percent of the patients were black, according to the study published Wednesday.
“It is important to continue ongoing efforts to understand the reasons for these racial disparities, including the role of socioeconomic and occupational factors in transmission,” the researchers wrote. “Public officials should consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities.”
The numbers also show that the virus can cause significant illness, even death, for previously healthy patients. More than a quarter of the patients - or more than 1-in-4 - had no preexisting conditions.
“This is an equal opportunity infection. Just because you’re, perhaps, younger or healthier, doesn’t mean it guarantees you that you’re gonna not have any complications of COVID-19,” said 11Alive medical correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy.
The results of the study come on the eve when Georgia's statewide shelter-in-place order is set to expire. It also comes just days after Gov. Brian Kemp's allowed tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons, restaurants, bowling alleys, and movie theaters to reopen, with some limitations. It's a move that Atlanta Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has vocally denounced. Atlanta's population is more than 50 percent black, according to the latest available Census data.
The findings in Georgia reflect those of a greater national trend. Data from across the country suggests that Black Americans are dying from the virus at a much higher rate than their counterparts, a grim reality that public health experts acknowledged near the beginning of the month.
"We've known, literally forever, that diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma are disproportionately affecting the minority populations, particularly African-Americans," said Dr. Anthony Fauchi, the director of NIAID and an integral member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, during an April 7 briefing.
Fauchi explained that those underlying health conditions are among those that make a person much more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus and getting seriously ill and even dying.
In the study, the researchers recommended public officials "consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities."
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