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CoastLine: Racial Disparities In Health Equity Show Up In Stark Relief Amid Covid-19

University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health and the Carolinas HealthCare System
The conditions in which people live, work, play, and worship are known as Social Determinants of Health. (Healthy People 2020) These conditions can have influence on a wide range of health and quality of life outcomes.

The novel Coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at disproportionately high rates.   That’s according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.  

If you are African American and you get infected by Covid-19, you are more likely to die from the virus than if you are a white American.  That’s true across the country – a phenomenon widely reported by PBS, The Atlantic, NPR, The New York Times and others. 

The fact that communities of color are harder hit by Covid-19 is also true in North Carolina.   Of the nearly 12-thousand cases in the state in which race is identified, 34% of those cases afflict people who are African American.  Of the 200 deaths about which we know the race, 35% are African American.  Disproportionate?  Absolutely. African Americans make up 22% of North Carolina’s population. 

Genetic predilection is not the reason for the excessive numbers in the black community.  On this edition, we unpack why black North Carolinians are harder hit than whites and we also find out whether these trends are tracking the same way in the Cape Fear region where African Americans live in even lower percentages than at the state level.  


Joe Conway, Director of Health Equity and Human Experience, New Hanover Regional Medical Center; Board Member, Friends of Public Radio  

Leah Mayo, Coordinator, Center for Healthy Communities, part of a community engagement effort within the College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina Wilmington


North Carolina Social Determinants of Health:This story map displays a set of indicators along with an overall index to help understand the geographic disparities in the social determinants of health.  This link to Region 8 is comprised of Bladen, Brunswick Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, and Sampson Counties.  

NC Department of Health and Human Services data on Covid-19:


North Carolina Medical Journal: Moving Upstream to Impact Health

Building a Physician Workforce that Understands Social Determinants
Nursing textbook recalled after backlash for stereotyping how racial, ethnic groups experience pain:  https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2017/10/30/racist-textbook

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.