Statewide statistics are showing that minority groups, particularly African Americans, are more likely to contract the novel coronavirus.
Across Michigan, African Americans account for 40% of deaths due to COVID-19 and account for 33% of confirmed cases. Doctors believe at least one factor may be pre-existing conditions.
"We have a particularity difficult problem of exacerbation of health disparity, we've known literally forever that diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma are disproportionally affecting the minority population, especially African-Americans," said Dr. Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Unfortunately, when you look at the predisposing conditions that lead to a bad outcome with the coronavirus, the things that get people to ICU's, that require intubation and often lead to death, they are just those comorbidities that are unfortunately disproportionally prevalent in the African-American population. So, we are very concerned about that, it's very sad, there is nothing we can do about that right now except to try to give them the best possible care to avoid those complications."
Looking at a local level, Muskegon County's current statistics also show a racial disparity. African Americans account for 43.9% of total all confirmed infections.
"I never predicted that the positive cases would result this way," said Kathy Moore, Public Health Director of Muskegon County.
Moore said they continue to collect data but cannot pinpoint the factors leading to the discrepancy but are working to address the gap.
"We are working with so many community partners to design our message and continue to do research and learn about the best practices," said Moore.
One community partners - Mercy Health - says they are working on reaching those specific demographics more significantly impacted.
"When we are dealing with individuals and families that have a more disadvantaged approach about how they’re living, whether that is their finances or their shelter situations, we’re seeing that people aren’t able to take the precautions and preparations that traditional families or patients are doing," said Stevi Riel, Regional Director of Community Health and Wellbeing for Mercy Health.
Local health officials say they are working to determine other existing factors and collect data to further understand the racial disparities during this pandemic.