Numbers are continuing to climb in the D.M.V., disproportionately affecting Black residents. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

In a day’s time, more than 2,000 more residents in the nation’s capital were diagnosed with COVID-19 between Jan. 2 and Jan 3. Just outside the District, in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, are the highest number of cases in the State of Maryland. These numbers are higher than at COVID’s highest peaks in the D.M.V. in 2020, yet in 2022 (or as some memes put it, “2020, too”), even with climbing vaccinations, rates are rising to alarming numbers, and it is still affecting Black residents disproportionately.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued a temporary state of emergency in Maryland, lasting for 30 days. In this 30-day period, Hogan is calling on the National Guard to assist with state and local COVID testing and vaccination sites. In the meantime, in Washington, D.C., which has the highest surge in the country, Mayor Muriel Bowser is pushing the vaccine as a means of beating the virus. Bowser is mandating vaccinations by Jan. 15 for people to enter establishments in the District, as well as requiring vaccines for teachers, students and government employees.

Despite some of these aggressive actions, COVID numbers are still rising and affecting the area’s Black residents in a major way.

“The specter of the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued our nation and the world for 20 long months now, but all of its devastating effects, whether health wise or economic, disproportionately impact our Black community,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement submitted to the AFRO

The District’s Black residents account for 49%,  or more than 51,000 people, of the total positive cases in the nation’s capital. In comparison, White residents only account for 22% of Washingtonians who have tested positive for COVID-19.  In contrast to this race gap in COVID cases, D.C. ‘s demographics show that Black and White Washingingtonians make up for an equal number of District residents, at 46% each according to Census data.

Moreover, District numbers become more alarming when considering those are the folks that are dying.  Black Washingtonians account for 77% of those who died from complications due to COVID-19.

In Maryland, while cases are higher for White Marylanders, Black people are still disproportionately affected.  White Americans account for 58.5% of Maryland’s population, while African Americans only represent 31.1% of Maryland’s total residents.  Though White Marylanders almost double Black Maryland residents, the COVID cases show a much narrower divide.  At press time, 255,658 Black Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19, accounting for 33% of total positives, in comparison to 292,417 White Maryland residents, who make up a bit more than 38% of the population of total positives, though representing a much larger chunk of the State’s racial demographics. This disproportionate rate in positivity continues when looking at the numbers of deaths in the State.

Maryland’s Blackest Counties are also feeling the sting. According to coronavirus.Maryland.gov, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Baltimore, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel have the highest numbers in the city, and also happen to be the areas with the larger African American populations.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor