Wisconsin coronavirus infection, death rates point to black health disparities

Wisconsin coronavirus infection, death rates point to black health disparities


The Capitol Square was unusually empty on the second day of Governor Tony Evers’s Safer at Home order, March 2. The City of Madison is showing signs of residents following the order.

For the first time since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold in the state, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Health released data this week showing how the disease is affecting people by race and ethnicity.

The department’s findings illuminate a growing body of data nationally showing that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is infecting and killing black people at high rates.
On a press call Thursday, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore said COVID-19 is “very opportunist.”

“If you’re weak, and if you’re poor, and if you can’t afford to have your groceries delivered to you, if you can’t stock up for a month’s time and avoid the interactions, if you work in the public service sector, I think you’re at greater risk,” the Milwaukee Democrat said. “Those things seem to come together for African Americans.”

The Wisconsin DHS data show that 27% of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 44% of people who have died from it are black. In Wisconsin, black people account for 6.7% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Milwaukee, the black community has suffered disproportionately from the coronavirus. The city has the state’s largest minority population. According to the Census Bureau, 38.8% of its residents are black and 18.8% are Hispanic.

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