As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, it is becoming more clear as to who is more at risk. Individuals who are obese or have chronic illnesses are more likely to get sick. Because these two conditions typically impact people of color in the United States, COVID-19 cases are more prevalent among African American citizens.
So, who is COVID-19 affecting the most and what will the financial impact be?
What Demographic Has the Most Cases?
Among individuals who got sick enough to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, 89% of them have some type of chronic illness. Of those, about half were obese or had diabetes. Around one third had cardiovascular disease.
Experts say that obesity is likely a marker for a number of other health issues. It can also lead to a compromised immune system. Not to mention, previous research has pointed to evidence that obese people may also be less protected by the flu vaccine than their healthier counterparts. “What we see with obesity is that these [immune] cells don’t function as well,” said Melinda Beck.
Beck, a health researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, stated, “The [immune cells] are not using the right kinds of fuels.” Because of this, being obese seems to “impair that critical immune response [needed] to deal with either the virus infection or [the ability] to make a robust response to a vaccine,” she said.
With coronavirus claiming a higher death rate among obese individuals and people with heart conditions, it has impacted the African American community heavily as well. Among the 26 states currently reporting racial data on COVID-19 cases, 34% of deaths have been African American citizens.
The Economic Impact
There are several factors making African Americans more susceptible to the virus. However, this demographic also typically suffers disproportionately to the rest of the United States population in terms of the economy as well.
“Chronic stress can make one more vulnerable to infection because it can lower your body’s ability to fight off an infection,” said Renã Robinson, professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt University. Anyone experiencing racial discrimination or financial trouble may suffer from chronic stress.
Due to this fact, low-income communities and African American communities could be at a higher risk of COVID-19 cases spreading through their area. “Every major crisis or catastrophe hits the most vulnerable communities the hardest,” said Marc Morial, president, and CEO of the National Urban League.
It isn’t yet clear what the long-term economic impact on the U.S. will be. For low-income neighborhoods and communities, it will undoubtedly change lives forever.
Readers, what do you think about the demographic information regarding COVID-19 cases?