Majority Milwaukee’s COVID-19 Deaths Within African American Community
Evers Call Outbreak A ‘Crisis Within A Crisis’
As Wisconsin’s COVID-19 death toll continues to rise, Milwaukee’s African American community has been hit particularly hard. Of the state’s 14 people who have died after contracting coronavirus, eight of them were African Americans living on the city’s northwest side, and Milwaukee appears to be the only city in the country where this is happening.
On Friday, Gov. Tony Evers called the deaths in Milwaukee “a crisis within a crisis.”
Milwaukee health officials say they are still gathering and analyzing the data to figure out why this community has been hit hardest by the virus. But in the meantime, city and county health departments have rolled out public health campaigns to Milwaukee’s African American community.
As of Friday, Milwaukee County had 468 positive COVID-19 cases, according to Milwaukee County’s COVID-19 dashboard. Wisconsin had positive 842 cases as of Friday afternoon, according to health officials.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Felesia Martin represents the city’s northwest side. She said even if people are just talking to their neighbors, they need to do their part to encourage social distancing.
Martin said she believes she has more than 30 COVID-19 cases in her district.
“Is it a part of lack of communication … our not touching all forms of media? Or are people not understanding how serious this virus is?” Martin said. “And of course with our president saying it’s not serious, it’s a hoax, are people still holding onto that thought?”
Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said it’s a surprise so many people in Milwaukee’s African American community have been affected because there have not been reports from other cities of there being hot zones starting in other black communities.
“What I want to emphasize about this virus is everybody is potentially an individual that can be affected: young, old, children, black, white, Latino, all of us,” Raymond said. “If there are issues with the early cases being in the African American community, we don’t know why, but I think a lot of people are working very hard to find out what the root cause is.”
Raymond said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in Milwaukee to study why more African Americans have contracted the new coronavirus. He also said it would be speculative to say the COVID-19 cases have anything to do with the occurrence of comorbidities among African American community.