COVID-19 Among African Americans: An Action Plan for Mitigating Disparities

Am J Public Health. 2021 Feb;111(2):286-292. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305990. Epub 2020 Dec 22.


As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded across the United States, troubling disparities in mortality have emerged between different racial groups, particularly African Americans and Whites. Media reports, a growing body of COVID-19-related literature, and long-standing knowledge of structural racism and its myriad effects on the African American community provide important lenses for understanding and addressing these disparities.However, troubling gaps in knowledge remain, as does a need to act. Using the best available evidence, we present risk- and place-based recommendations for how to effectively address these disparities in the areas of data collection, COVID-19 exposure and testing, health systems collaboration, human capital repurposing, and scarce resource allocation.Our recommendations are supported by an analysis of relevant bioethical principles and public health practices. Additionally, we provide information on the efforts of Chicago, Illinois' mayoral Racial Equity Rapid Response Team to reduce these disparities in a major urban US setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • COVID-19 / ethnology
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Racism
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States