WASHINGTON: Infecting nearly four lakh people and killing over 12,000 others, the coronavirus pandemic has brought up the deep-seated issue of racism in the United States, especially with President Donald Trump announcing that African-Americans have higher rates of infection in the country.
During a White House press briefing, Trump said evidence shows that African-Americans have higher rates of COVID-19 infection in the US and his administration is actively engaging to address this challenge, Xinhua news agency reported.
"It's been disproportional," Trump told reporters, adding that he is very concerned about the terrible numbers of infected African-Americans.
Higher rates of pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma, within people of colour and minority communities may contribute to the phenomenon, as well as their higher use of public transportation, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"We are very concerned about that. It is very sad. There is nothing we can do about it right now except to give them the best possible care to avoid complications," Fauci said.
Trump also said that the White House would release data on coronavirus cases by race in the near future.
US Vice President Mike Pence said the "risk of tragedy" is "very real."
"It is a reminder that we have to be very careful with people with underlying health conditions," he added.
Los Angeles County released a partial racial breakdown of coronavirus fatalities for the first time on Tuesday, showing African-Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19.
"When we look at these numbers by the total population of each group, African Americans have a slightly higher rate of death than other races," said L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 396,223 as of 20:00 on Tuesday (local time), with 12,722 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.