COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus pandemic, has caused a new wave of problems for major U.S cities, with many barely keeping up with the rising number of cases growing by the day. In Milwaukee, many of these new cases are wreaking havoc in one group in devastating numbers: African American men.
The City Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik announced on Monday that many of the new cases they were seeing for the coronavirus were in middle-aged African American men. While Kowalik did not confirm a specific percentage, she did say that out of the 158 cases they had that day, many of them were among black men. The first three Milwaukee patients reported to have died after contracting coronavirus were all African American men between the ages of 50 and 70. All of the patients had underlying conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart problems.
Kowalik sees the rise stemming from the city’s long history of segregation and its effects on the local medical field, citing disparity that requires more outreach and education.
“Looking at the maps of Milwaukee, and looking where people live, looking at the history of redlining and segregation and how that crosses over into today,” she said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “when we’re talking about various health outcomes like infant mortality, childhood lead poisoning, you see very similar distributions.”
The city is leading a campaign targeting African American men who may likely be at higher risk of contracting the virus. Kowalik also mentioned that the department will also be doing the same for the Latinx community as well where there has been another increase in cases.
“Health officials are planning public service announcements focusing on the African American community, which will stress awareness about coronavirus, its symptoms, and who is most at risk for complications—as well as prevention measures, such as hygiene and social distancing.”