S.C. stats show toll of COVID-19 on state’s Black community

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 11:59 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - An analysis of statistics details just how badly South Carolina’s Black population has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health analyzed newly available state data on deaths by race in the four regions of South Carolina and found:

  • In each region, Black people are being diagnosed with and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates compared to their percentage of the population.
  • Although Black people account for 27% of the population of South Carolina, they make up 49.1% of those who have been hospitalized because of the virus and 45% of those who have died.
  • The biggest racial disparity in the state for deaths is in the Pee Dee region, where Black people have 2.43 times the rate of deaths compared to white people. This is followed by the Upstate, the Low Country and the Midlands.

The analysis was part of a data brief released Thursday by the institute and the Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

To address COVID-19 disparities, public health leaders have suggested:

  • Continued increases in testing availability across the state, with a focus on Black communities and communities that lack access to care.
  • Streamlined access to care for vulnerable populations, including Black communities and low-income individuals.
  • Promotion of face covering and social distancing, targeting the messaging to vulnerable populations, and increased access to personal protective equipment like masks and sanitizers.

“COVID-19 has highlighted systematic disparities in how people of color receive care in the U.S. health system. To combat this virus, equity-focused solutions must be at the forefront,” Maya Pack, executive director at the institute, said in a statement.

The institute is an independent, nonprofit organization with a mission to collectively inform policy to improve health and health care.

To read the full data brief or for more information compiled by IMPH regarding COVID-19 response, visit imph.org/covid-19.

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