Numbers show African-American community, young people disproportionately affected by COVID-19

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MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — In Mecklenburg County, two people have died from COVID-19 related complications. The county has the highest number of positive cases in the state and it’s disproportionately affecting some communities more than others.

The numbers show those getting the coronavirus are disproportionately African-Americans and many are younger. 

“This is definitely affecting the younger population, though it may not be as severe,” said Dr. Jenni Womack with Tryon Medical Partners. 

Womack has been on the front lines of testing and has seen for herself who it affects.

“It’s a little over 50 percent women and people under age 40 is 40 percent, over 40 is 40 percent and over 65 is 18 percent,” Womack said. 

Those numbers are in line with what we’re seeing across Mecklenburg County.

FOX 46 crunched the numbers and found that people under the age of 60 account for more than three-quarters of the coronavirus cases.

For a virus that was thought to put older people at risk, a lot of young people are getting it. Those numbers also skew towards African-Americans. 

“If you’re not worried, you’re living in a bubble,” said Delmonte Jefferson with the NAATPN, an organization dedicated to providing resources for health in the African-American community.

Jefferson says the county’s numbers represent a larger issue locally, and nationally.

“The coronavirus attacks and impacts weakened immune systems, because of other conditions you might have, and African-Americans disproportionately have diabetes, lung issues associated with tobacco use, HIV/AIDS in some cases.” 

Jefferson noted social and economic factors that existed before coronavirus and he believes will extend after for the disproportionate numbers.

For Womack, she says the numbers stress that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and people need to social distance.

“Social distancing is not about you, it’s about protecting those who are at higher risk of an illness,” Dr. Womack said. 

The numbers from Mecklenburg county change literally by the day, but those numbers are increasingly becoming consistent, that’s why health officials have stressed to everyone take measures to stay healthy.

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