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Public health officials take close look at race in battle against COVID-19

Numbers across the country show African Americans are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia health officials are taking a closer look at race when it comes to patients with COVID-19.

Numbers across the country show African Americans are significantly more likely to have been hospitalized because of the virus. 

In Dekalb County, residents take the news personally.

“Here in DeKalb county we were the first to come up with the numbers that the nation is now speaking on,” said radio DJ Frank Ski, who moderated a virtual town hall in Dekalb Thursday night.

A panel, many seated several feet apart, others calling in virtually, spoke about many topics, including why they believe African Americans seem to be more vulnerable to the Coronavirus.

RELATED: African Americans may be dying at a higher rate by coronavirus | Here are the numbers in Georgia

Credit: WXIA

“This pandemic has shown that not everyone in this country has access to proper health care,” said Dr Patrick O’Carroll, the head of the Task Force for Global Health.

Public health officials in several cities like Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago, say they’re seeing the disproportionate impact on African Americans in their communities as well.

Experts say African Americans have higher rates of certain diseases, like diabetes and hypertension. This can lead to more severe cases of COVID-19.

According to the latest numbers released from the department of public health in Georgia, 21% of all patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are African American, while 16% are white.

But the vast majority, 60%, aren’t known. The state admitted they just recently started looking at race.

It’s hard to make a firm analysis without consistent data, said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Georgia Public Health Commissioner.

Credit: WXIA

Across the country, African Americans make up a third of all hospitalizations due to COVID-19, while making up only 13% of the total population.

“When COVID first came out I heard all kinds of stories that black people were immune,” said Dr. S Elizabeth Ford, Director of Dekalb County’s Board of Health, “none of that is true.”

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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