MEMO: 200,000 COVID-19 Deaths and the impact of Trump’s Presidency on Black Americans


TO: Interested Parties

FROM: DNC Press Office

DATE: Monday, September 21, 2020

RE: 200,000 COVID-19 Deaths and the impact of Trump’s Presidency on Black Americans


At the ABC News Town Hall last week, a Black voter asked Trump, “if you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities?” He responded, “I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action.” The United States is about to surpass 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths, a milestone that will be the legacy of Trump’s failed presidency.

A closer look at the data tragically reveals that despite being 13% of the U.S. population, Black Americans make up approximately 21%, or about 40,000, coronavirus deaths. Black seniors over the age of 65 comprise a significant proportion of the deceased, and this vulnerable group continues to bear the brunt of the ongoing coronavirus tragedy. The pandemic has proved to be the worst health crisis in modern history, and the inadequate response by Donald Trump and his administration has resulted in substantial health and economic ramifications that have been particularly devastating for the Black community.

Trump knew early on that the coronavirus was deadly, yet he failed to plan or protect the health and economic well-being of Black Americans. As a result of Trump’s chaos, the United States is grappling with over 6.8 million cases, millions of lost jobs, 100,000 permanently shuttered businesses, and nearly 200,000 deaths — far more than any other country in the world. It didn’t have to be this bad. Trump called for slowing down testing to make the numbers look better; refused to implement national mask guidelines or coordinate the distribution of protective equipment to those who needed it, particularly in under-resourced Black communities; threatened to cut funding for schools instead of ensuring that they have the resources needed to reopen safely; and even dangerously suggested that Americans should inject disinfectant to protect themselves from COVID-19. And his actions, or lack thereof, have had a disproportionate impact on people of color.

In 2016, Trump asked Black people: “what do you have to lose” by voting for him. More recently, he said that he has done more for Black people than any other president since Abraham Lincoln. But the facts and data tell a different story. The disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on Black families, workers and businesses, and 40,000 dead Black citizens prove that African Americans have everything to lose. The data is undeniable: Trump’s lack of urgency in combating the virus, combined with his reluctance to develop an adequate plan to address health and economic racial disparities, has caused irreparable harm to Black Americans.

Today the Democratic National Committee held a press call on the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on African American communities. DNC War Room Spokesperson Danai Pointer was joined by Biden for President Senior Advisor Symone Sanders, Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Robin Kelly, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium Dr. Ala Stanford.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust 

“The president has failed us. He chose his own political interests ahead of our lives and I think that he’s incapable of rising to the moment. And we need a president who believes in science, who believes in what the doctors are saying, and will work with the experts so that we can finally put the pandemic behind us.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

“I know firsthand what this experience has been like because my family has been faced with COVID-19…It is my hope that we will have more answers about COVID-19. That my family personally will have more answers about COVID-19. But in the meantime, let us all do what we can do. And that is to elect someone who respects science, who respects our communities, who recognizes that our communities are suffering, and that person is Joe Biden.”

Dr. Ala Stanford, Founder, Black Doctors Covid19 Consortium

“The Black seniors over the age of 65 are a huge component of the deceased. These vulnerable groups still bear the brunt of the ongoing coronavirus tragedy. According to Kaiser Health News, Black Americans 65 to 74 died of Covid five times as often as whites, and the death rate in some groups is almost four times greater. And let me make it very plain… in my fourth decade of life I am six times more likely to die than someone who is… 10 years older than me — and who is white. So it doesn’t matter that I have health insurance, that I am educated with multiple degrees. The only variable that is statistically significant is that I am Black.”

Biden For President Senior Advisor Symone Sanders

“If Joe Biden were president, everyone in this country would be wearing a mask when they’re around other people. If Joe Biden were president, he would get the testing fiasco fixed. If Joe Biden were president right now, he would get protective gear to everyone on the front lines. If Joe Biden were president, he would issue standards for schools and businesses, and he would get some aid to help them do it. The four things I just named are four things that Donald Trump is not doing, and doesn’t have any intention of doing. And the sad reality is that if we continue on the path Trump is on, the worst is not behind us.”

Black Communities in the U.S. Have Been Disproportionately Infected, Hospitalized, and Killed by the Coronavirus That Trump Has Failed to Contain

  • Black Americans comprise 13% of the U.S. population and approximately 21%, or about 40,000, coronavirus deaths. Adjusted for age, Black Americans have suffered coronavirus deaths at a proportion more than double their share of the population.

  • Black Americans in the U.S. have been particularly vulnerable over the course of the pandemic. Scientific American reported that, as of late July, “73.7 Black people out of every 100,000 had died of the coronavirus—compared with 32.4 of every 100,000 white people.”

  • Wall Street Journal: Through August 8, adjusted for age, Black individuals died from covid-19 at a rate of 105.58 per 100,000 people, compared to 30.82 per 100,000 among white people.

  • Between January and July 2020, African American deaths were 31% above normal.

  • Black children represent 29 percent of all COVID-19 deaths of those under age 21.

The Trump Administration’s Fractured Pandemic Response Has Failed to Address the Disproportionate Impact of the Coronavirus on Communities of Color

  • POLITICO: Health workers, civil rights advocates and state and local officials told POLITICO that efforts by the CDC and the broader Trump administration to mitigate the impact of the virus on communities of color are falling short, citing cultural misunderstandings and asserting that “mixed messages from the White House have made it harder for counties to get a handle on the disease.”

  • POLITICO: The CDC has reached out to communities of color and provided recommendations around testing and tracing, but had “left the communities to figure out how to come up with the funds necessary to put those plans into action.”

Trump’s Refusal To Coordinate A National Testing Strategy Meant That Communities Of Color Had Less Access To Testing

  • Wall Street Journal: “The lack of a systematic approach to allocating testing resources threatens to exacerbate the socioeconomic impact of a pandemic that has thus far disproportionately affected minority, elderly and low-income communities, some academic researchers and public-health officials say.”

  • Axios: ZIP codes where the population was at least 75 percent White had one testing site for every 14,500 people, while ZIP codes where the population was at least 75 percent people of color had one testing site for every 23,300 people.

  • Associated Press: “While people nationwide complain about appointments being overbooked or waiting hours to be seen, getting a test can be even harder in America’s poorer, Hispanic and Black neighborhoods, far from middle-class areas where most chain pharmacies and urgent care clinics offering tests are found.”

  • FiveThirtyEight: “Sites in communities of color in many major cities face higher demand than sites in whiter or wealthier areas in those same cities.”

Even After Legislative Action Sought to Force The Trump Administration to Improve Data On Racial Disparities In Coronavirus Cases, It Failed to Do So

  • The CARES Act required the CDC to issue a report on the demographics of coronavirus cases, but instead of taking the requirement seriously, the agency submitted a 2.5 page report comprised of links to data that already existed on their website.

  • POLITICO: “The incomplete figures have made it more difficult to respond to the crisis in the neediest communities, which are majority-minority, advocates and health professionals of color say. The data — particularly related to testing outcomes — is crucial to both treating the virus and stopping its spread in these communities.”

  • The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more comprehensive data on the coronavirus’s effects on people of color and reported that federal data “reveals a clearer and more complete picture: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.”

Unemployment Has Been Particularly High For African Americans, and Black Business Owners and Businesses have Suffered as a Result of Trump’s Botched Coronavirus Financial Assistance Delivery  

  • Black/African American unemployment is currently 13.0%, higher than the rate for any other racial group.

  • Black-owned businesses were largely shut out of the first round of emergency Paycheck Protection Program loans, with only 12% of Black applicants saying they received the amount of loans they requested, and 26% receiving a fraction of what they requested.

  • Even after a second round of PPP funding was passed with money set aside for minority borrowers, many Black-owned small businesses still struggled to access the loans.

    • New York Times: “The institutions that frequently lend to minority-owned businesses, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, are nonprofit organizations called Community Development Financial Institutions… However, only 78 of 950 such organizations are participating in the government program, according to a Treasury spokesman.”

  • Major banks administering the small business aid program prioritized their wealthiest clients over other loan seekers — like Black small business owners.

    • Associated Press: “Black business owners are also more likely to own small operations with fewer than 10 employees, presenting less incentive to lenders who can earn more profit from more sizeable companies.”

  • And, according to the Washington Post, Black-owned businesses “are less likely to have a financial cushion, and they also tend to be in industries severely affected by the pandemic.”