What turns medical scientists into race hustlers? Surrounded by politicians, Anthony Fauci’s repetitive declarations that he was a scientist broadcast that he was someone you could believe about Covid-19. On May 16th, to an audience of college students at Emory University, Fauci the scientist said that “the undeniable effects of racism” have worsened the coronavirus pandemic for minorities. He echoed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, another medical scientist. On April 7, 2021 noting disproportionate Covid case counts and deaths in communities of color she declared racism a serious public health threat. Surely, these medical scientists know that the data is unsupportive of their conclusions.
With Covid-19 death counts as a guide, the “white community” has fared worse than communities of color, although calling it a crisis would be overblown. According to the latest data from the CDC (May 12, 2021) there have been 3,454 disproportionately more White deaths, and 3,823 fewer community of color deaths (Latino, Black, Asian, Native American, Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders).
Among the communities of color, one group has a disproportionately high death rate, and four have disproportionately low rates. The high rate is for Blacks (14.8% vs 13.4% of population), but this is not due to racism, any more than any other high or low rates are due to racism — or privilege.
In a nation of about 330 million people, when there is one population group out of six that has a disproportional death count that is 0.02% higher than it would be if all racial/ethnicity groups were clones, it’s time to ditch the sabre rattling that racism is a public health crisis. When 42.4% of the population has a problem (obesity), that’s a public health crisis. Let’s also ditch the people of color and communities of color masquerade. Asians, Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans are not some homogenous group at any level, including when it comes to Covid-19 outcomes. It’s simply a contrived category to divide the nation between Whites and non-Whites.
Fauci said, “Now, very few of these co-morbidities have racial determinants,” but this is untrue. Comorbidities very definitely vary by racial group, and it is not due to genetics or racism. It is related to individuals making decisions about what and how much they eat, if they have active or sedentary lifestyles, and being diligent or remiss with preventative health measures. Fauci, however, doesn’t see personal decisions, he opines that some people are unable to afford an “adequate diet, access to healthcare and the undeniable effects of racism in our society.”
Since the medical scientists are ignoring the data, let’s take a look at it. A study between 1988 and 2010 found men reporting no physical activity jumped from 11% to 42%, and from 19% to 52% for women. People that meet the CDC’s exercise guidelines are low across races/ethnicities. For whites 25.7% met guidelines. For blacks it was 19.9%, and Native Americans 19.1%. (Asians 22.9%, Latinos 21.4%.) African American US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (2009-2013) explaining why Black women often refrained from exercise said certain hairstyles don’t do well with sweat or additional washing. Personal decisions notwithstanding, a sedentary lifestyle increases the presence of medical disorders, including heart diseases, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, hypertension, dementia, obesity, and respiratory diseases. These are all very common Covid comorbidities.
From 1999 to 2018, the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in America leapt from 30.5% to 42.4% and 4.7% to 9.2% respectively. Being overweight is the single greatest, or a significant, contributing factor to all of the Covid comorbidities just noted. Culturally, Blacks generally accept “larger body sizes and feel less guilty about overeating than other ethnic groups.” Blacks are 13.4% of the population and 25% of the overweight, 19% of the obese, and 22% of the severely obese populations.
According to the CDC, being overweight (emphasis on obesity) may triple the risk of hospitalization from Covid. It also increases the risk of dying from Covid by 148%. Other pre-existing conditions that dramatically increase the risk of dying from Covid also correlate with being overweight and sedentary. This includes cardiovascular disease (225% increase in risk), heart failure (203%), diabetes (148%), kidney disease (325%), cancer (147%), and hypertension (182%). The CDC found that 38% of people categorized as dying from Covid also had heart-related diseases, 16% diabetes, 9.8% kidney failure, 13.7% dementia, 63% respiratory diseases, 45.7% influenza and pneumonia, and 19.1% hypertension.
Someone with uncontrolled hypertension is even more likely to die from Covid-19. Hypertension is greatly influenced by obesity, diabetes, and the use of salt. The general diet of African Americans tends to include large amounts of salt, and Blacks have been less likely than whites, Asians, or Latinos to engage in lifestyle changes and take their prescribed medicines to control hypertension.
Blacks have the highest disproportional presence in six out of seven of the categories with the highest increased-risk, and all of the most common comorbidity categories.
The presence of healthcare insurance does not appear to have an effect on the different health outcomes. Today the uninsured include 21% of Latinos, 11% of blacks, 11% of Asians, and 8% of whites. Most people that aren’t insured today are young people who don’t qualify for Medicaid and do not see the cost of healthcare as a good economic decision.
Disproportionate Covid deaths like the disproportionate presence of many other health conditions correlate to different personal decisions – not racism. African American Dr. Richard White from the Mayo Clinic has studied the correlation between health literacy, chronic health diseases and obesity in minority populations. He said: “It’s really going to require the African American community to come together as a unit to really say, ‘you know what? This is our health as a community, this is something that we’re going to take the initiative and interest to improve ourselves and not necessarily rely on outside or external forces to try and make it happen for us.” His advice contrasts sharply with Fauci who sees the Blacks as helpless victims unable to control health outcomes. Dr. White’s advice is spot on for the Black community. It has been found that Black health habits are not influenced by external sources, like medical doctors or government health advisories. Blacks, instead, must draw their own conclusions and then act on them. Blacks are no different than any other racial/ethnic group in their desire to make their own decisions. If people don’t want to exercise, have a healthy diet, reduce salt intake, or take their meds, these are individual choices. If this leads to disproportionate outcomes, this is not due to racism.
Let’s ditch the systemic racism canard; it’s become a subterfuge of the government to distract from the many pressing problems that America faces, like a pandemic, high unemployment accompanied by labor shortages, skyrocketing violence, inflation, a border crisis, and war in the Middle East. Meanwhile Iran, Russia, and China are taking their best shots with a government distracted by our leaders spouting that racism is a public health crisis and the biggest military threat we face.