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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a Coronavirus Task Force Press news briefing. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has highlighted the disproportionate impact the novel coronavirus is having on African American communities, telling CBS Tuesday "many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID."

Driving the news: Several states and cities have reported that African Americans are dying from the virus at higher rates than any other racial demographic. Not all agencies have released a breakdown of data, but the virus is spiking in cities with large African American populations, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans.

"I have high blood pressure ... I have heart disease and spent a week in the (intensive care unit) due to a heart condition," Adams said. "I actually have asthma and I'm pre-diabetic, and so I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black. I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID. It's why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread."
— Adams on CBS

What they're saying: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a briefing Tuesday African Americans "are suffering disproportionately." "[W]hen they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions ... wind them up in the ICU," he said.

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders during a livestream discussion Tuesday evening pointed to "systemic racism" and a "dysfunctional healthcare system" on the disparities, with some 87 million Americans "uninsured or underinsured."
  • Michigan physician Victoria Dooley noted to Sanders that many African Americans, particularly women, are "underpaid" essential workers, who are more exposed to the risk of catching the virus. "The fact that African Americans are disproportionally incarcerated, is a huge factor," she said.
"African Americans make up only about 13% of the population but we are 40 per cent of the homeless population. So of course, you don't have a home to live the shelter to be in for shelter in place, you're going to be disproportionately impacted."
— Dooley's remarks to Sanders

Zoom in: A Washington Post analysis of available data and census demographics found counties where most of the population is African American have "three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority."

  • In Michigan, African Americans account for 14% of the population but 33% of COVID-19 cases and 40% of all deaths, per details published Tuesday by the state health department.
  • Louisiana Department of Health figures show 70% of those who have died from the virus in the state were African Americans, who represent about 32% of the population, ABC News first reported.
  • In Chicago, African Americans, who make up 30% of city's population, accounted for 68% of deaths from COVID-19, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday, citing state health department data.
  • In Milwaukee County, African Americans represent 26% of the popultation. But they accounted for almost half of the 941 people infected and 81% of the 27 who died, ProPublica reported Friday.

Go deeper: Coronavirus hits poor, minority communities harder

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

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