The latest coronavirus data out of Ingham County Health Department confirm locally the trend we are seeing nationally: African-Americans are at significantly elevated risk from COVID-19.
According to the data released yesterday, in Ingham County people who are African-American are at about 2.75 times the risk of Caucasians, and ten times the risk of Asians.
As of yesterday afternoon, Ingham County Health knew of 274 confirmed cases in the county. That includes 25 people who are hospitalized with 4 people in ICU beds. The overwhelming majority of Ingham’s COVID-19 positive patients are recovering at home.
As of yesterday, five Ingham County residents had died of the disease, and 69 had recovered. There were 395 non-confirmed cases being monitored by the Ingham County Health Department.
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by more than 500% since March 29, when ELi spoke to Linda Vail, Ingham County’s chief health officer. That percentage increase may be due in part to testing being more readily available.
Ingham County’s information sheds light on which groups of people have been affected.
While Caucasians make up the majority of cases in Ingham, as shown above, the disease is having a bigger impact on the population of people who are African-American.
In Ingham County, 62% of all confirmed cases were in people identified as “Caucasian.” That puts the rate at 79 cases per 100,000 Caucasians.
People identified as “African-American” accounted for 26% of coronavirus patients. But the rate of infection for that population is 218 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than the other groups listed.
The higher rates of infection among people of color follows national trends, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed a task force to examine the causes statewide.
Experts have shown that long-standing discrimination including redlining have led to racial disparities in wealth. Wealth inequality then leads to disparities in access to healthcare and health-promoting activities, making underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, more prevalent and severe among African-Americans and/or Blacks.
Those diseases are known to increase the risk of becoming very sick or dying from this virus.
What about age? About half of Ingham County’s cases have been in people age 49 and under, while the other half were in people age 50 and older. Twenty-two percent of cases were in people age 50-59, the age bracket with the most cases.
And geography? East Lansing’s 48823 zip code has had between 31 and 35 cases. Two other zip codes also fell into this bracket: 48910 which covers part of Lansing, and 48854 which covers more rural areas and Mason..
Only Lansing’s 48911 zip code, which covers southern and western parts of the city, had more cases, between 41 and 45.
Ingham County had its largest daily increase in its number of confirmed cases on April 1, when 23 people tested positive for COVID-19. However, Vail told Michigan Radio that the availability of testing and relatively low number of cases makes it difficult to predict when Ingham County will reach its peak.
This week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a statement, informing Michiganders of the availability of a test center locator, available here.
Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun also stated that testing would be expanded to include people with mild symptoms. She encouraged people to contact their medical provider to procure a referral for a test.
Related reporting: East Lansing’s Public Health Is Threatened by Insurance Gaps.