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Opinions of Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Columnist: Richard Tawiah

COVID-19: Why many African-Americans died in the US

Yes, we all heard news about how this virus was killing hundreds in a week in Wuhan, China somewhere in November 2019. Never did we anticipate such number of deaths here in the US. Now cases of the deadly virus near three million world-wide.

America alone has recorded 55 000 deaths out of the one million total number of cases with only one hundred and thirteen thousand recoveries. When the first cases of COVID-19 were reported many African Americans thought they were immune to the virus probably because of their genetic type.

Already, various news on how the virus cannot attack people of Black descent, were all over social media and some news portals. Then reality dawned on us. Countries from different parts of the world started recording cases of COVID-19.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, countries affected by the disease began implementing control measures-key among them which is the stay home order.

The stay home order is very important because the virus moves only when infected persons move along with it and infect those they come into contact with. It is important to note that out of the 55 000 deaths of Americans, as reported by the Centre for Disease Control ( CDC), thirty percent are African Americans, although African Americans make up only 13 percent of the US population.

So why the high number of death of blacks from Covid19 in the USA? In my opinion, these are some of the reasons: There is a high population of African-American people who are homeless or living in places likened to slums. There, nothing like physical or social distancing is practiced, making it easy for the virus to spread.

Another reason is the inequalities in the health system. Many of these Blacks cannot afford health insurance and so do not seek medical help early, even if they do so, they are late in reporting and due to the overwhelming numbers at the hospitals, do not get the proper attention.

Yet another reason is in the area of employment. Many black people are under-paid or doing menial jobs and as such can not afford to stay home. This group of people is compelled to work even when they know staying home protects them from the virus. But hey! they have to work to keep body and soul together as theirs is the "from hand to mouth" way of living. Sadly a lot of these people have succumbed to the disease.

So you see America is not a bed of roses as portrayed by the media and some Africans. As you plan your life, always remember that there is nowhere sweeter than home. "Home sweet home" as our elders say. As such we must all endeavour to do our best to ensure that our motherland is the best place one can ever think of staying.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has proven to be a leveller, Africans must stand united and strategise on how best to develop the continent. Together we can build a better future for generations yet unborn.

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