Bay Area officials react to news that black Americans are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area officials and activists were not surprised to hear the latest coronavirus headline.

The federal government says black Americans are dying of coronavirus at much higher rates compared to other Americans in some major cities.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says existing health disparities have made this outbreak worse for African Americans.
City leaders in Oakland say they have been in intense discussions about this topic, worrying this would be the case.

Oakland officials say 70 percent of their homeless population is African American.

Ken Houston is an activist who serves on the Alameda County illegal dumping task force.

He says he was already worried about how the virus would hit the African American community.

This latest news did not surprise him.

"The reaction is - we already knew this," Houston said. "It has been disproportionate for years - the inequity of our community."

He sent a letter to several county officials last week with his concerns about the homeless, African Americans and the coronavirus.

He thinks the impact we are seeing will be a wake-up call to the community on how the black community is treated.

"Now, they have got to get ahead of this. The inequities of our community have been horrendous for years," he said.

In addition to underlying health conditions, advocates also worry that this is happening because minorities aren't receiving adequate information about the illness or access to testing.

The CDC says it will work on compiling data from state governments and release officials numbers later this week.

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