Racism and COVID-19


By Karen Kruse Thomas and Dayna Kerecman Myers • Photo by Will Kirk

There’s a saying that when America catches a cold, African Americans catch pneumonia. The axiom proved tragically true as COVID-19 cases began surging in the U.S. this spring. Nationally, African American deaths are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population, according to The COVID Racial Data Tracker

The heightened risk for communities of color was the first concern for Lisa A. Cooper, MD, MPH ’93, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.

In this Q&A, Cooper, a practicing physician and epidemiologist, discusses racism’s role in COVID-19 cases in African American communities and solutions for the inequities.


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