70 Percent of Coronavirus Deaths in Louisiana Are African Americans, Despite Being 33 Percent of the Population

A significant majority of coronavirus deaths in Louisiana were African Americans, although the demographic makes up only a third of the southern state's population.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, announced on Monday that more than 70 percent of the deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, were African Americans in his state. He said that this was "obviously" a "big disparity."

"Disturbingly, this information is going to show you that slightly more than 70 percent of the deaths in Louisiana are of African Americans," Edwards said during a press briefing. "So that deserves more attention and we're going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down," he added.

African Americans are estimated to make up just about 33 percent of the state's population, according to the most recent census data.

Louisiana
A woman enters the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on April 6. Local authorities set up a temporary field hospital at a center in Louisiana to prepare to start accepting thousands of coronavirus patients CLAIRE BANGSER/AFP/Getty

The state's former governor, Mitch Landrieu, who is also a Democrat, raised concerns about the statistic in a Monday tweet.

"Wake up! Covid-19 doesn't discriminate in who it infects, but >70% of deaths in LA are African-American. Data point after data point showing communities of color seeing disproportionate health & economic impacts. Solutions must address underlying inequities in our society," he wrote.

Edwards also shared some more optimistic news on Monday, noting that state officials no longer were concerned that their health care system would be overwhelmed by the novel virus. However, he urged residents to continue to follow stringent social distancing measures to maintain the progress.

"We are hopeful we're starting to see the beginning of flattening the curve," the governor said.

"We've bought ourselves more time that allows us to continue to surge our medical capacity and continue to flatten the curve," he added. "And all of this stuff works in concert. So we've got to keep doing everything that we've been doing to have the best possible outcome."

As of Tuesday morning, Louisiana had more than 14,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to a tracker updated by Johns Hopkins University. Of those, 512 had died.

Louisiana is not the only place in the country to see minority communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed data from New York City, reporting that neighborhoods in the Queens borough with the largest immigrant populations were the hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Charlotte Observer also reported that in Charlotte, North Carolina–which is just one-third black–about 44 percent of the confirmed coronavirus cases were African Americans.

Reporting by ProPublica showed that 80 percent of coronavirus deaths in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were African American, while the city is just 26 percent black. Similar stats have been observed in Illinois and Michigan.

"COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities. Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions," progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents hard hit areas of New York City with large minority and immigrant populations, tweeted on April 3.

"Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations," she wrote.

70 Percent of Coronavirus Deaths in Louisiana Are African Americans, Despite Being 33 Percent of the Population | U.S.