Startling details regarding the COVID-19 pandemic have emerged out of the nation's capital. A report from a local media outlet, the DCist, indicates that 49 out of 50 or 98% of the district's COVID-19 deaths since June were Black residents. Unfortunately, these reports are not anything new to the district that many affectionately call "Chocolate City."
The Black community has been hit harder than any other group in the city. DCist reports that 911 or 77% of the city's 1,184 COVID-19 related deaths during the pandemic have been Black residents. Moreover, Black residents account for more than 50% of the city's COVID-19 cases, but account for approximately 40% of the city's population.
Majority-Black areas within the city like Ward 7 and Ward 8 have been ravaged during the pandemic. DCist adds that Ward 8 is responsible for 38% of COVID-19 related deaths in the city within the last six months. Meanwhile, Ward 7 is responsible for 22% of COVID-19 related deaths within the city since June.
To address this growing public health issue, medical professionals are encouraging people to get vaccinated. However, DCist reports that less than 45% of Ward 7 and Ward 8 residents are vaccinated. Meanwhile, 59% of residents in Ward 3 and 64% of Ward 4 residents are vaccinated.
“The numbers are low east of the river with the COVID-19 vaccinations because people are uncertain and afraid,” Washington, D.C. resident Elvera Patrick told WAMU.
“It’s been so many stories and myths about the vaccination that many don’t know what’s the truth.”
Washington, D.C. is not the only city to deal with such an issue. Nationally, the CDC reports that Black Americans are twice as likely to die from the virus. Also, Black Americans are nearly three times as likely to be hospitalized after contracting the virus. Still, nearly 55% of Black residents remain unvaccinated. In comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 54% of white American residents are vaccinated, 51% of Hispanic Americans are vaccinated and 69% of Asian Americans are vaccinated. Data shows that nearly 90% of recent COVID-19 related hospitalizations involve unvaccinated patients.
Making matters worse, Black residents are less likely to receive proper care after contracting the virus. In a study published earlier this month, researchers found that Black residents who tested positive for COVID-19 had the lowest rate of follow-ups after their initial discharges.
"Black patients experienced the lowest physician follow-up postdischarge and the longest delays in returning to work," the study reads.
"Increased attention to postdischarge care coordination is critical to reducing negative health outcomes following a COVID-19–related hospitalization."
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.