Milwaukee, like other states in the U.S., has experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases. Officials say most of them are middle-aged Black men who may have thought themselves immune, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
According to the report, Milwaukee stood at 158 confirmed cases Monday afternoon and the first three patients to die were black men in their 40s and 50s. They all had pre-existing conditions ranging from diabetes and hypertension to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart problems.
Yet many of those infected did not travel abroad. Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said many of the people with positive tests probably thought “’I’m not going there,’ or ‘I don’t know anyone that goes there’ and ‘I’m not traveling, so I don’t have to worry about it.'”
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The city’s mayor, Tom Barrett, recently issued a stay at home order amid the pandemic.
“This is about something that’s here right now.” He added they were “”communicating as fast as we can and as deeply as we can into these neighborhoods to let people know that this is not just about people who had been in China,” Barrett said.
Kowalik drew parallels between racist policies like redlining and segregation with where the coronavirus cases are concentrated. She also noted the lack of resources the city’s Black community have that make complying with certain mandates like social distancing more difficult.
“Looking at the maps of Milwaukee, and looking where people live, looking at the history of redlining and segregation and how that crosses over into today, when we’re talking about various health outcomes like infant mortality, childhood lead poisoning, you see very similar distributions,” Kowalik said.
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