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As Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) moves to reopen more businesses, a new study underscores the disproportionate toll the virus has taken on the state’s African American population.

Surveying eight Georgia ­hospitals, researchers found that in a sample of 305 covid-19 patients, 247 were black — more than 80 percent and more than they expected.

“It is important to continue ongoing efforts to understand the reasons for these racial disparities, including the role of socioeconomic and occupational factors in transmission,” the researchers wrote. “Public officials should consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities.”

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While limited by time and geography, the results of the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday echo research showing black Americans are more likely to be infected and die of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Kemp pushed forward in recent days with a reopening of businesses across the state, a decision made without input from state and local health officials. Many black leaders have criticized that decision, saying their communities will suffer the most if covid-19 cases spike and the virus overwhelms state resources.

“We call upon our local political leaders to continue to work on behalf of all Georgia citizens, and especially its most vulnerable citizens who need and deserve reparative outreach and service,” the state’s NAACP said.

About 40 percent of the 305 patients in the study had diabetes, and a quarter had cardiovascular disease. Previous research by the CDC, which is headquartered in Atlanta, has shown that people who have chronic medical conditions face an increased chance of being hospitalized with covid-19 and put into intensive care. Diabetes is twice as common among black Georgia residents as whites, and black Georgians are more likely than whites to die of heart disease.



Construction workers wearing face masks walk past a sign in front of The Anthem, a popular live music venue, that displays a message of support on their marquee amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 29 in Washington, D.C.




Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks during a meeting with President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in the White House in Washington, D.C on April 29.




Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, a Dallas Police officer hands a sticker to a boy in a parking lot of a shopping center in Dallas, Texas on April 29.




Police, fire and rescue agencies arrive to cheers from medical staff at the main entrance to Central Florida Regional Hospital, in Sanford, for a “Heroes Thanking Heroes” parade on April 29 in Sanford, Florida.




A letter bearing the signature of President Donald Trump was sent to people who received a coronavirus economic stimulus payment as part of the Cares Act in Washington, D.C on April 29.


Coronavirus In The US


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi adjusts her face mask to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as she attends a news conference to announce members of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C on April 29.




Messages of Support Written On a Boarded Up store in New York City on April 28.




A customer makes a purchase at a cafe in Grand Central Terminal on April 29 in New York.




Spray bottles of sanitizer, gloves and rags sit at the ready in Flamingo Park on April 29 in Miami Beach, Florida. The city of Miami Beach partially reopened parks and facilities including golf courses, tennis courts and marinas as it begins easing restrictions made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.




A pedestrian walks past a sign in a shop window reading “We Will Return Boston Strong” after Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended his stay-at-home advisory and his order closing non-essential businesses until May 18 because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts on April 28.




Democrat Kweisi Mfume removes a face mask before addressing reporters during an election night news conference after he won the 7th Congressional District special election on April 28 in Baltimore, Maryland. Mfume defeated Republican Kimberly Klacik to finish the term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, retaking a Maryland congressional seat Mfume held for five terms before leaving to lead the NAACP. 




Medical personnel attend a nightly 7 pm applause in their honor on April 28, outside NYU Langone Medical Center in the Manhattan borough of New York. 




Hundreds of people line up for food donations, given to those impacted by the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Chelsea, Mass. on April 28.




On behalf of The New York Stock Exchange, Robert Glorioso, Chief Building Engineering Operations rings The Closing Bell on April 28 in New York, to thank volunteer motorcycle courier Robert Babington of Bristol Myers Squibb for navigating the pastoral countryside near Dundalk, Ireland to go the extra mile for patients. The NYSE joins millions of others who stand in awe and gratitude of the way people around the world have responded to the COVID-19 crisis – from medical professionals to workers who ensure food supply, and those who keep streets safe. 




Tributes to veterans cover a sign on April 28, near an entrance road to Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass., where a number of people died due to the coronavirus.




Jocelyn Bush, a poll worker at the Edmondson Westside High School Polling site, cleans each station after a ballot is cast, during the special election for Marylands 7th congressional district seat, previously held by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28.




Two people walk past a mural on a boarded-up window that reads “This is Temporary,” on April 28 in Seattle, Washington. 




President Donald Trump answers questions while meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (L) in the White House on April 28 in Washington, D.C.




The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds perform a flyover tribute to honor NYC COVID-19 frontline workers on April 28.




Detroit residents line-up to be tested for free for the coronavirus disease at the Sheffield Center in Detroit, Michigan on April 28.




A motorist drops off a mail-in ballot outside of a voting center during the 7th Congressional District special election on April 28 in Windsor Mill, Maryland.




A man shops in the meat section at a grocery store on April 28 in Washington, D.C




Volunteers help prepare bags of food to aid those in need during the coronavirus outbreak at the Arlington Food Assistance Center, on April 28 in Arlington, Virginia.




New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily coronavirus press briefing on April 28 in Syracuse, New York.




Kelly Millier prepares to have her temperature checked her team member in North Brookfield, Massachusetts on April 28.




Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a press briefing on the state’s efforts battling the coronavirus pandemic in Boston on April 28.




A medical professional works at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at Cambridge Health Alliance Somerville Hospital on April 28 in Somerville, Massachusetts.




U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III greets a healthcare worker as he delivers Wahlburgers meals for the medical staff at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts on April 27.




President Donald Trump turns to Vice President Mike Pence as they depart following a coronavirus response news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on April 27.




A social distancing sign is seen on a table at a Waffle House on the day restaurants and theaters were allowed to reopen to the public as part of the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants on April 27 in Smyrna, Georgia.




Children’s playground equipment is canvased in construction site temporary plastic fencing to prohibit activities inside Belle Ziegler Park on April 27 in Takoma Park, Maryland.




A woman wearing a mask walks past shuttered stores as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in the SoHo neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of New York City on April 27.




Activists organized by Black Lives Matter dance to a live band at the end of a rally at low speed in their cars as they highlight essential workers during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in underprivileged communities on April 27 in Washington.




Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker looks on during a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on April 27.




The statue of Edward Everett Hale in the Boston Public Garden in Boston wears a surgical mask and scrubs as the quarantine during the coronavirus epidemic continues on April 27.




Barry Lennon, operating partner of J. Christopher in Brookhaven, Georgia, hangs up signs to promote dine-in service at the restaurant on April 27. Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed some non-essential businesses to start re-opening in Georgia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.




Betty Seward carries lettuce plants at the Cleveland Ott & Sons farm, which supplies garden centers and farm stands, in Graterford, Pa., on April 27.




Velma Mullen wears a protective mask as she walks past a sign advising park users to keep physical space between them on April 27 in Seattle.




Mannequin heads wear masks in the window of a small boutique advertising availability of masks, gloves and other pandemic necessities amid the coronavirus outbreak in Arlington, Va., on April 27.




A thank-you sign for health care workers hangs at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City on April 27. 




The T-Rex Walking Club, a group of people that gather in a variety of inflatable costumes, meet in the parking lot of Elks Lodge before heading out to parade through neighborhoods in hopes of cheering up the community during the coronavirus pandemic in Ferndale, Michigan, on April 27.




A sign displays a positive message thanking frontline workers at a car wash as the coronavirus pandemic continues on April 26 in Farmington, Michigan.




Pastor Emily Nesdahl leads a virtual Sunday service online broadcast due to the coronavirus disease restrictions at Peace Lutheran church, featuring drawings of parishioners taped to the pews, in Burlington, North Dakota, on April 26.




Residents listen at a “social distance” as singer/guitarist Phil Angotti performs songs from the back of a pick-up truck on April 26 in Oak Park, Illinois. Owner Will Duncan of Fitzgerald’s nightclub, a suburban music venue and restaurant shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, created a “Stay-at-Home Concert Series” to bring music from local Chicago artists each weekend to fans in suburbs close to the club. 




A man reaches to grab something as he maintains distance from another man at Alamo Square Park in San Francisco on April 26. 




Golfers maintain proper social distancing as they relax after playing a round at Birch Creek Golf Club, on April 26 in Union, Mo. Golf courses in Franklin County, Mo., are among a handful of businesses being allowed to reopen this weekend as the county begins to relax restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 




Opera singer Victoria Robertson, who has taken to performing each Sunday from the porch of her home, sings to a gathering of neighbors on April 26 in San Diego, California.




Sections of Grand Central Station are closed on April 26 n New York City. 




A man sits in a window in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on April 26.




Calvin Henry disinfects golf carts at Birch Creek Golf Club on April 26, in Union, Mo.




Gigi Gorgeous and Nats Getty speak during GLAAD presents “Together in Pride: You are Not Alone,” a star-studded livestream event highlighting the LGBTQ response to COVID-19 and benefiting CenterLink on April 26.



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But a quarter of the patients included in the study had no preexisting conditions, and 5 percent of those patients died, a reminder the virus can cause significant illness and death for previously healthy patients.

The median age of patients was 60. Most had private insurance or Medicare; 11 percent were on Medicaid; and 15 percent were uninsured. All the Medicaid patients in the study were black, but the black patients were no more likely than others to be uninsured.

Statewide, African Americans are less likely to be insured, according to Benjamin Lopman, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University. They’re also more likely to work in industries with a greater risk of exposure such as transportation, nursing homes and animal slaughter plants, Lopman said.

The black patients studied were not more likely than those of other races to require treatment with ventilators or to die while hospitalized. The researchers did not follow the patients after discharge or after the study ended, when 8 percent remained in the hospital. During the month-long study, 48 patients died.

State numbers indicate African Americans, about 30 percent of Georgia’s population, make up about 36 percent of confirmed covid-19 patients; race was unknown or missing in 28 percent of reported covid-19 cases. The state stopped reporting covid-19 deaths by race this week, although a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said the agency hopes to release those numbers again in the next few days. As of last week, African Americans made up more than 50 percent of patients who have died. 

© Jessica Mcgowan/Getty Images
Barry Lennon, operating Partner of J. Christopher restaurant, hangs up signs promoting dine-in service at the Brookhaven, Ga., establishment. Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed some nonessential businesses to reopen in Georgia amid the covid-19 pandemic. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Georgia has moved more quickly than any other state in reopening businesses after a stay-at-home order. Bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, gyms and salons were allowed to open last week, followed by movie theaters and restaurants Monday. Vacation rentals can open Friday.

A funeral in February in a small and largely black southwest Georgia community is believed to have sparked an outbreak that took 117 lives in Dougherty County, more than anywhere else in the state.

Seven of the hospitals that participated in the study are in the Atlanta area; one is in southern Georgia.

One of the study researchers is a doctor from the only hospital in Dougherty County, which is also the only hospital in southwest Georgia equipped to handle covid-19 patients. In contrast with other states, Georgia has seen a higher case death rate in rural areas than urban centers. All five counties with the highest number of cases per capita are in southwest Georgia, and all are predominantly black.



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