Jul 19, 2020 - Health

Black people in Maine make up 2% of population, 23% of coronavirus cases

A sign saying to wear a mask.

A sign encourages visitors at Old Orchard Beach in Maine to wear a mask on July 13. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Black people in Maine account for nearly 23% of coronavirus cases, despite making up about 2% of the state's population, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Despite Maine having among the lowest rates of coronavirus infections in the country, the state has followed the national trend of high rates of infections among Black people.

  • Officials said contact tracing indicates many of the infected Black Mainers are immigrants whose jobs leave them vulnerable to the pandemic. Maine does not collect data on coronavirus for immigrants, following federal guidelines.
  • Officials have addressed the issue by offering more testing and health care, finding ways to provide aid directly to immigrant groups and hiring more bilingual staff.

What to watch: "[A]dvocates for immigrants warn that conditions in Maine are ripe for a spike in infections if officials do not reach immigrants directly," the Post's Maria Sacchetti writes.

  • Most of the Black immigrants in Maine are from African nations including Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Go deeper: Why the coronavirus pandemic is hitting minorities harder

Go deeper