Black Alabamians and Black Belt counties among hardest hit by COVID-19
Montgomery, Ala. – As Alabama COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward, statistics show the heaviest death rates are among Black Alabamians. Those numbers are especially high in Black Belt counties. The top 10 counties with the most deaths per case are Tallapoosa, Hale, Greene, Sumter, Butler, Chambers, Marion, Macon, Lowndes, and Walker. In those counties, over 4 percent of positive cases end in death. Lowndes County has a staggering 24 deaths per 10,000 citizens, which is the highest rate in Alabama. Many of these counties are considered rural and also lack a hospital.
While Alabama is less than 30 percent Black, over 42 percent of deaths in the state are among African-Americans. According to a study from the United Kingdom, now appearing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Black people are four times as likely to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, compared with white people. The research also found that people living in the most deprived areas were more than three times as likely to test positive in comparison with those living in the least deprived areas. The vast majority of Alabama deaths, more than 95 percent, occurred in people who have underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or chronic lung disease. Only 65 deaths have been unconnected to an underlying condition.
Alabama currently has a 7-day average of just under 850 new cases a day, far below the approximately 2000 per day in mid-July. The coronavirus data website BamaTracker has the all-important average of positive test per day nearing 7 percent. The ideal range is below 5 percent. At one point earlier this month, Alabama topped 20 percent.
Officials continue to caution that re-opening of schools and the upcoming Labor Day weekend could lead to another surge of cases, and are urging Alabamians to wear their masks and practice social distancing.