The African-American community comprises 27.2 percent of the population of Milwaukee County. Yet it also has about 45 percent of the current coronavirus cases in the county.
It reflects a national trend where African-American neighborhoods have seen the highest concentration of cases in many major metropolitan areas.
“When we think about the African-American community, there are already very high rates of hypertension, asthma, respiratory conditions and diabetes,” said Erikajoy Daniels, the senior vice president of diversity and inclusion of Advocate Aurora, on Wisconsin’s Afternoon News.
“Those very conditions are the high risk factors for COVID-19. It’s almost this layering impact on the community that (affects) them in an an adverse way.”
Those medical conditions have numerous factors leading into them, particularly socioeconomic factors including access to health care and higher education. Workers in poorer areas who still are able to be employed often have to travel to their jobs, and fewer in the fields those workers are involved in are able to work from home. All that leads to increased exposure to the virus.
Those factors can get exacerbated as well with Milwaukee’s hyper-segregation and poverty on the city’s north side.
In fact, an aspect of the pain of societal stereotyping is leading to some African-Americans choosing not to wear masks – against many CDC guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It really hits home for me for my 11-year-old when I ordered masks for the home, he said ‘Mom, do you really think it’s safe for me to go out?’ As a young black boy with a mask that could give someone a different impression,” said Daniels, who is African-American.
“There is a discomfort. What if people have misconceptions, biases and have a reaction to seeing someone and (they) make a false move or have a wrong reaction to what they’re seeing?”
Daniels discussed much more on Wisconsin’s Afternoon News. Listen above in your podcast player.