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‘The Driving Force Is Institutionalized Racism’: Black North Carolinians Are Getting Hit Hard By COVID-19

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African-Americans make up less than a quarter of the state’s population, but nearly 40 percent of its confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.

By Paul Blest

April 10, 2020

Dr. Crystal Wiley Cené, an associate professor at the UNC School of Medicine and the director of its Program on Health Disparities, said that the high rates of infection tracks with other systemic issues that disproportionately impact Black Americans and North Carolinians.

“There’s no simple answer, but I will tell you that it’s not surprising,” Cené said. “I think the things driving the disparities in COVID are the same things that drive disparities in other systems. The driving force is institutionalized racism. To me, that’s the pandemic we’re talking about.”

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