WASHINGTON (CNS) — A group of U.S. bishops expressed sorrow over disparities in infection and death rates among African Americans in U.S. communities.
“Our hearts are wounded for the many souls mourned as African American communities across the nation are being disproportionately infected with and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19. We raise our voices to urge state and national leaders to examine the generational and systemic structural conditions that make the new coronavirus especially deadly to African American communities,” said the statement issued May 4.
The statement, on behalf of four U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees, was issued by Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs.
Though an accurate rate of infections and deaths among African Americans at the national level is not yet clear, some communities are reporting high and alarming levels among their respective populations.
In St. Louis, in early April, for example, statistics showed that African Americans accounted for 64% of coronavirus cases even though blacks make up 45% of the population. At around the same time in New York, African Americans were 28% of deaths, although they’re 22% of the population, and in the District of Columbia, African Americans account for almost half of the COVID-19 cases and 79% of deaths, according to May 4 figures. But some say it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the situation among ethnic communities because some members may be dying at home or not seeking health care for the disease for a variety of reasons.
Figures from the nation’s capital for the same date also showed high rates among its Latino population, saying they account for 19% of Washington’s total COVID-19 cases though they’re only 9.1% of the population mirroring similar figures in other parts of the U.S.
Some say lack of affordable housing, which causes crowded living conditions, a high rate of those populations serving as essential workers and lack of access to health care are contributing to the rise in numbers among those ethnic communities.
“We stand in support of all communities struggling under the weight of the impact this virus has had not only on their physical health, but on their livelihoods, especially front-line medical and sanitation workers, public safety officers and those in the service industry,” the bishops’ statement said. “We are praying fervently for an end to the pandemic, and for physical health for all, and emotional healing among all who have lost loved ones.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103