Why African Americans make up majority of COVID-19 deaths in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As of Wednesday, the majority of the 12 deaths concerning the coronavirus in the city of Houston are African American, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In each death concerning COVID-19, the patient had an underlying health condition.

Of those cases, two were Caucasian, two were Hispanic and eight were African American.

"What it does appear for people that are already on the margins of life, for people who are having underlying medical issues, hypertension, diabetes, that those are the populations that have been adversely affected even more," said Mayor Turner.

Doctor Stephen Linder with UT Health has been examining underlying health conditions by region and by race. He said that 55% of Africans Americans in the city of Houston have at least one of the seven risk factors, compared to 43% of whites and 37% of Hispanics.

"There are disproportionate burdens of disease in our population and some of it reflects our system of care, some of it reflects our social supports and some of it reflects our economy," said Dr. Linder.

Dr. Linder said there could be factors like access to health care or other socioeconomic factors that are contributing, too.

"A crisis like this calls attention to the holes in the system, where all the weaknesses are, and I think part of this is we're seeing the weaknesses in our system in terms of having certain segments of the population bear a disproportionate amount of risk," said Linder.

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