TURES COLUMN: African-Americans are not responsible for the COVID-19 Delta surge

Published 9:30 am Friday, August 27, 2021

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With the Delta Variant of COVID-19 spreading throughout the United States, and deaths are rising again, everyone’s looking for a scapegoat. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that blacks are the latest people blamed for the surges in cases. Nor should it surprise anyone that those who are pointing the finger at African-Americans are also not giving you all of the facts.

According to the Texas Tribune, “During an interview Thursday night on Fox News, [Texas Lt. Governor Dan] Patrick was asked about the state of the pandemic in Texas, and he noted the virus is spreading mostly among the unvaccinated. In most states, he said, African Americans are the “biggest group” who are unvaccinated, and they are reliable Democratic voters.”

Most of the criticisms of the Texas Lt. Governor have focused on how unfair his comments seemed. They also provided excuses for why African-Americans may have for having lower vaccination rates, ranging from historic concerns over prior medical studies of blacks, like the Tuskegee research.

Opponents of the Texas politician’s assertions also pointed to a lower chance of access to medical facilities among African-Americans. But few critics looked at whether the data was even accurate or not in the first place.

An article later posted on Yahoo reveals that an NPR/Marist Poll shows vaccine hesitancy is higher among whites than blacks. The Texas Tribune also revealed that vaccine hesitancy in Texas was higher among Republicans (38%) than blacks (18%), according to a Texas Tribune/University of Texas, Austin survey.

Texas surveys don’t support the critique of African-Americans. “Statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services don’t back that. Black people — who make up about 12% of the more than 29 million people in Texas — accounted for about 15% of total COVID-19 cases and just more than 10% of deaths,” reported the Houston Chronicle, which noted Patrick did not respond to their request for additional comments.

It made me wonder what other data we needed to fully examine vaccination rates by race nationwide.

I went to Kaiser Family Foundation site, which tracks the race and ethnicity of the people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., as of Aug. 16, 2021. I found that Blacks made up 12 percent of the population, and 10% of those who received at least one dose. For whites, who make up 61 percent of the population, they made up 58 percent of the group who received at least one dose. Hispanics make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, and 17% of those who have received at least one dose. Asian-Americans make up 6 percent of the population, and 6 percent of the people who have received at least one dose.

Moreover, of those who have started the vaccination process in the last two weeks, African Americans make up 15 percent of this group, while Hispanics make up 26 percent of the total of vaccine initiators.

Whites make up only 45% of this group, well behind their 61% numbers.

So the evidence shows that African Americans are not driving the COVID-19 surge.

Of course, we should try to vaccinate everyone, regardless of race. Masks rules should be applied without regards to race. And treating those unvaccinated people who actually are accounting for the surge in new coronavirus cases and deaths should be a priority. Pointing the finger at a particular group when seeking blame should be the least effective response, especially when those accusations are not fully accurate.