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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

COVID-19 Disproportionately Impacting African American Michiganders

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Image credit: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

New data shows racial disparity in COVID-19 infection rates across the state. Deadline Detroit’s Greg Bowens says messaging could be to blame.

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More than a third of all COVID-19 cases in Michigan are among African Americans. That’s despite the fact that the black population accounts for less than 14 percent of the state. 

Greg Bowens wrote a piece in Deadline Detroit titled “Poor Coronavirus Messaging In Black Community Proves Deadly”, addressing the racial disparities demonstrated in newly published COVID-19 data. Bowens says that the high COVID-19 infection rates and subsequent complications among African Americans is an indictment on the health care system and show a discrepancy in access to resources.

Class inequality fails to tell the entire story though, says Bowens.


Click on the player above to hear Greg Bowen’s explain why Michigan is failing African Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Greg BowensJake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Greg Bowens

Messaging, specifically to the African American community, is lacking.

The messaging in and of itself can be uniquely tailored to African American taste and style, but at the very least these mass media attempts should be happening and they just aren’t,” says Bowens.

He says information should be widely broadcast with the help of local leaders, like those in the religious community. Bowens says the public’s anxiousness around frank conversations about race has also hampered communication efforts.

Getting good at messaging to folks is really important. We just need to stop being scared to talk about race and stop being scared to talk about the disparities in our healthcare system,” says Bowens. 

Further Reading

Black communities hit harder by coronavirus in Michigan, not just Detroit


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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This post is a part of Coronavirus in Michigan.

101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus, and it's related illness COVID-19, in Michigan. 

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