Wayne County’s Black Community has Highest Per Capita Rate of Positive COVID Tests

As the coronavirus numbers are increasing once again in Michigan-over the weekend we saw new case numbers increase by 641 over two days bringing the State’s total count to 63,261-we must also better understand what populations this disease is hitting the hardest. The State of Michigan breaks down demographic data for those who have tested positive for COVID by race, gender and age. In this post we examine the race data for Southeastern Michigan and later this week we will examine the gender data. The four maps in this post examine the race data for are the black, white, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Native American populations.

According to the data, 31 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID in Michigan are black, with the highest concentration per capita in Southeastern Michigan being in Wayne County (black individuals make up 14 percent of Michigan’s population). There are 17,042 per million black individuals who have tested positive for COVID in Wayne County, this is equivalent to 2,851 black individuals. For the City of Detroit, where the overall number of black individuals who have tested positive for COVID is the highest, there were 12,526 black individuals per million who tested positive. The Detroit per capita rate is equivalent to 6,906 black individuals who tested positive for COVID.  Overall, 35 percent of the State’s black community who has tested positive for COVID lives in Detroit. In Southeastern Michigan, Livingston County has the lowest concentration of black individuals who tested positive for COVID. According to the data, there are 4,276 black individuals per million who tested positive, which is equivalent to 8 total black individuals.

When examining the white population in Michigan, 24,933 individuals have tested positive for COVID, which is 39 percent of the population (79 percent of Michigan’s population is white). In the second map below, the data shows that per capita (per million) Detroit has the highest number of white individuals who have tested positive for COVID at 6,370, which is equivalent to 615 total white individuals. In total, Wayne County has the highest number of white individuals in Southeastern Michigan who have tested positive for COVID at 4,371, this is equal to 4,713 white individuals per million. Oakland and Macomb counties also have more than 3,000 white individuals test positive for COVID. In Oakland County there are 3,799 white individuals who have tested for COVID and in Macomb County there are 3,299 white individuals who have tested for COVID. These raw numbers are equivalent to 3,830 and 4,471 white individuals per million, respectively.

The Asian American/Pacific Islander and Native American populations have been affected less by the coronavirus, in large part because those are smaller populations. However, per capita (per million) the number of those who have tested positive for COVID in those populations rivals, in some cases, those who have tested positive in the black and white populations. Map 3, which is the first map below, shows that in Macomb County there are 6,041 Asian American/Pacific Islander individuals who have tested positive for COVID, this is equivalent to 245 people. While Macomb County has the highest per capita rate of Asian American/Pacific Islander individuals who have tested positive for COVID, Oakland County has the highest total number of individuals at 317. Oakland County’s per capita rate of Asian American/Pacific Islanders who have tested positive for COVID is 2,919 per million.

For the Native American/Alaskan American majority of the counties in the region did not have enough data on this population to produce a per capita rate. But, of those that, did Oakland County has the highest per capita rate at 8,610 per million, which is equivalent to 47 total individuals.

The per capita rates discussed in this post show, in comparison, where the concentrations of positive COVID tests are among each population by race. By comparing the data amongst the maps we can see which county and which race has the highest concentration of positive COVID tests. As the first map showed, the black community in Wayne County has the highest per capita rate of individuals who have tested positive for COVID at 17,042 per million. As we know this far into the pandemic, COVID has disproportionately hit the black community in Michigan, and throughout the country.  Reasons attributed to this include lack of access to health care, denser living situations and a higher percentage of health disparities (heart disease and diabetes, amongst others) in the black community. Much of this is related to economic disparities amongst the black and white populations in Michigan, and beyond. In a future post we will also examine these disparities and how they impact Southeastern Michigan and the black community.

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