Surgeon General says African Americans are at higher risk during the coronavirus pandemic

WATCH: Surgeon General says African Americans are at a higher risk during the coronavirus pandemic

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Reports show that African Americans face high rates of coronavirus infections in some states. What about Shelby County and the surrounding areas? FOX13 asked health leaders what they are noticing locally.

Although this is an issue that’s been going on for weeks, the Shelby County Health director said right now they don’t have that information.

According to experts, other states are noticing a trend of the number of African Americans impacted.

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Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in a televised interview African Americans are at a higher risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

West Memphis Medical Examiner Dr. Shakeb Hashmi told FOX13 he agrees. He said diabetes, hypertension and obesity are to blame. They are health problems that are prevalent in African American communities. He said because of that, they are higher at risk. In Shelby County, health leaders said they are still looking into data.

“Unfortunately, much of our race data has been missing for a variety of reasons. That’s one of the pieces of data that’s not necessarily on the report, the report that comes from the healthcare provider or the lab,” said Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter.

Reports reveal in Louisiana about 70 percent of the people who have died are African American, though a third of the state’s population is black. In Milwaukee, nearly 27 percent of the residents are black. Experts said nearly twice as many African American residents tested positive for the virus compared to whites.

Shelby County’s health director told FOX13 we could learn new information this week.

“In regards to death data specifically, we anticipate that either tomorrow afternoon or Thursday we’re going to be able to provide very detailed information on deaths that would include the race data as well," she said.

Reports indicate that even in Chicago more than half of those found to have the virus are black.

Dr. Hashmi told FOX13 social economics, poor healthcare in black communities, and lack of access to doctors all play a factor.

FOX13 asked the Shelby County health director why it is taking so long to get that data locally. We have not heard back from her.

The medical examiner in West Memphis said he treated four patients who had the virus. Three were white, one was black. He said those numbers are small samples so you can’t draw a conclusion from them.

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