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Black Americans Are Dying at a Drastically Disproportionate Rate & It Sounds the Alarm on a Health Equity Crisis

A new study is shedding light on the mortality rate disparity for Black people in the United States — and further illuminating the deadly toll of racial inequities in healthcare.

As NBC News reported, a JAMA study published on Tuesday (May 16) found that the disproportionately high mortality rate for Black Americans accounted for more than 1.63 million excess deaths between 1999 and 2020 relative to white people. Black people are also more likely to die young. Over that 22-year stretch, their higher death rate resulted in more than 80 million cumulative years of life lost.

These staggering figures are due at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionately devastatingly impact on communities of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black people are 1.6 times more likely to die from COVID than white, non-Hispanic people.

America was actually making progress on closing this racial gap in mortality rates between 1999 and 2011. Unfortunately, that trend began to stall in 2011; once COVID hit the U.S. in 2020, the disparity worsened yet again.

“The study is hugely important for about 1.63 million reasons,” Herman Taylor, an author of the study and research director at Morehouse School of Medicine, told NBC News. “Real lives are being lost. Real families are missing parents and grandparents. Babies and their mothers are dying. We have been screaming this message for decades.”

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