Early indications are that African-American communities are being hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump addressed the problem during the Tuesday Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

“It has been disproportional,” Trump said. “They are getting hit very, very hard.”

Dr. Tony Fauci with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says blacks "are suffering disproportionally from the virus because of existing health problems that were prevalent in black communities — such as heightened levels of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma." 

In Illinois and Michigan, early data shows that 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths are African-American.

Let's be clear, blacks are not suffering because Trump is a racist or because the medical community is avoiding treating them. The pre-existing or underlying health conditions so often referred to in identifying those at high risk of contracting COVID-19 are often prevalent in African-American communities with high poverty rates and low education levels. 

I don't think it is too much of a stretch to examine the social and political structures over the decades and connect the dots that lead to policies that have long neglected the inhabitants of these communities. I'm convinced that a close examination would reveal that in many cases, the underlying health conditions can be traced to government involvement or lack thereof where it truly matters.

Dr. Fauci says the coronavirus outbreak has uncovered some disturbing health trends within some sectors of the African-American community.

“We’re very concerned about it, it’s very sad, it’s nothing we can do about it right now except to try and give them the best possible care to avoid those complications,” Fauci said.

For many Americans, the lack of quality education and health care options has led to poor dietary and health-related decisions. In many cases, government dependence has added to the problem. Record numbers of Americans have been lifted out of poverty and away from government dependence in recent years and that trend must continue going forward.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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