Black COVID-19 Mortality Report-Year One Summary, 73,236 Black Deaths
The Covid-19 pandemic’s first year ended claiming 73,236 Black lives, representing 14.9% of 520,000 total U.S. deaths. The updated mortality data was released on March 2, 2021 by APM Research Labs.
Every death was tragic and many were totally unnecessary. But Black people directly confronted the dangerous challenges posed by the coronavirus and Donald Trump’s Necro-politics to prevent what could have been a far deadlier killing field.
Through collective action, enormous discipline, and ‘situational adaptability,’ Black communities averted an unmitigated disaster.
This Black Death COVID-19 Summary concludes that given the magnitude of three extraordinary risks to Black communities, 73,236 Black COVID-19 deaths represent a painful but important victory. The three high-risk categories confronting Black people were identified as follows.
• Pre-existing adverse conditions shaped by structural iniquities [lack of healthcare plans, lack of access to healthcare facilities, high percentage of ‘essential workers’ in high human contact jobs, more users of public transportation, and more residences in densely populated communities].
• The unprecedented George Floyd protests and the seismic 2020 primary and general election voter turnout.
• The Trump administrations malfeasance and deliberate actions that exacerbated the lethal threat to Black communities.
This summary holds that compared to what potentially could have happened and considering the issues that were within our power to control, the Black communities’ response was outstanding. It is important that Black people recognize its accomplishments as we move to the “COVID-19 End Game--The Vaccination Wars.”
Our conclusion that the Black response was a significant victory may not represent the consensus view of the Black media and commentators. It may not reflect the view of the Black community writ large nor of Black health care professionals.
Nevertheless, we believe the Black communities efforts should be defended and applauded That Blacks comprised 14.9% of the total COVID-19 deaths, while making up 12.4% of the total U.S. population represent a mortality disparity of only 2.5%.
From the COVID-19 pandemic’s inception, Black deaths hovered between 19.7% and 23.6% of total deaths for nine straight months from March to November 2020. Then, the ratios suddenly began plummeting in December to 14.9% by February 2021. APM Research Labs catalogued the mortality data by race by since April 2020 in 49 states and Washington, D.C.
This steep decline in Black death ratios during the pandemic’s three deadliest months (December, January, and February) since April 2020, can be explained in four words: awareness and collective discipline.
In this instance, Blacks simply engaged in far less travel and large indoor family gatherings during the holiday season. Black people recognized the danger, ‘masked-up’ and hunkered down. But burrowing into foxholes and cocooning for three months hardly explains the breath and genius of the Black response.
Black discipline and situational adaptability were on full display as Blacks came out in the streets to engage in two massive high-risks enterprises.
First, confronted with reductions of polling sites, accessibility to ballot drop boxes, deliberate attempts to delay mail-in ballots, and threats of violence, Blacks heroically stood in long lines for hours to vote in the 2020 primary and general elections in record numbers.
The national spike in COVID-19 deaths in December 2020, was not the result of November 3 general election voting: it was from Thanksgiving Day travel and family gatherings. Nor did the Thanksgiving holiday lead to a substantial increase in Black deaths. In our December 10, 2020 COVID-19 Alert, we noted the following.
‘As of December 8, the total number of Black COVID-19 related deaths has reached 49,994. During the nadir of COVIDS-19’s Spring rampage, 407 Blacks died every 24 hours from May 3 to May 7. By contrast, from November 10 to December 8, an average of only 135 Black deaths were being reported per day.’ The November 10 to December 8 period accounts for two weeks after election day for COVID-19 cases to rise and another week for a corresponding rise in Black deaths counts…. It never happened.’
The drop in the Black percentage of COVID-19 deaths was also caused by white deaths almost doubling from December 2020 to February 2021. As of December 8, 2020, white COVID-19 deaths stood at 151,354. By March 2, the number of whites succumbing to COVID-19 climbed to 299,915. This astronomical rise can only be attributed to holiday travel and family gatherings.
As for the protests after George Floyd’s murder from May 25 to June 25, a conservative estimate of 15 million largely Black-led protestors participated in over 550 demonstrations. According to the New York Times, 990 of these protests were tear-gassed by police, substantially raising the risk of community spread from increased sneezing, coughing, convulsions, and aggravated respiratory illnesses.
Black protestors were very conscious of mask wearing and observing social distancing where possible. The fact that most of the protesters were young, likely contributed to the lower numbers of participants being infected, despite the massive number of protesters. Rally organizers also began setting COVID-19 assistance booths, handing out masks, hand sanitizer, and water.
Our June 28, our COVID-19 Alert, validated that there was no discernible rise in Black COVID-19 deaths caused by the George Floyd protests. We reported that,
‘As of Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the APM Research Lab reported the total number of Black COVID-19 deaths now stands at 26,747…Since mid-May, the percentage of Black deaths compared to the total number of deaths (125,545 on June 23) dropped from 23.1 percent to 21.3 percent. Over the past 14 days, the average number of Black deaths per day has declined to 122, compared to May 3-May 7, when Black deaths per day averaged 407. ’
Black people's steely discipline that was demonstrated during the elections and the Black Lives Matter 2.0 protests, was also exhibited in a myriad of ways that limited community spread and transmission of COVID-19.
•Black youth and college sororities/fraternities didn't throw COVID-19 parties mocking the pandemic like some of their white counterparts. •Black college students didn’t flaunt HBCU COVID-19 prevention policies. The overwhelming majority of NHCU's also offered distance learning. •Black parents were very vocal about demanding learning options without the return their children to elementary and secondary schools until enhanced safety measures were deployed. •Black churches did an excellent job of providing alternative church, Sunday School, choir rehearsals, and funeral services for its constituents. •Black healthcare organizations and groups played critical roles in educating Black communities and providing ancillary support services.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic baptized Black people and the country in the fire of the first post-modern design of Necro-politics. Generally speaking, Necro-politics refers to the use of social and political power to dictate how some people may live and how some must die.
The Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe described Necro-politics emergence as the politics of a world increasingly ‘plagued by ever-increasing inequality, militarization, enmity, and terror, as well as by a resurgence of racist, fascist, and nationalist forces determined to exclude and kill.’
Donald Trump was American Empire’s avatar of Necro-politics. His rhetoric and policies of caging asylum seekers at the Southern border and brow-beating Republican governors to declare themselves as anti-mask, anti-prevention, COVID-19 deniers were integral to his proxy war to determine what types of people should live and die in America.
Trump’s overt and relentless attacks on Blue state governors and especially large cities run by Democratic mayors, was nothing more than a writ advocating the extermination of undesirables by allowing the coronavirus to run amok. Trump fashioned himself as a white nationalist demi-god with the power to determine life and death at a whim.
Even as the vile abomination of slavery tortured many and gratuitously murdered Black slaves that refused to countenance servility, the institution didn't contemplate mass executions of the slaves that generated their blood-soaked profits and wealth.
Donald Trump was the living embodiment of Necro-politics. His rhetoric and actions that fertilized the soil for a future race war and civil war has left a stain that shall remain with us until Black people cast off the yoke of American Empire.
Pushing back the COVID-19 crisis has brought us one step closer to that reckoning with American Empire in the 2020’s.