Black residents in D.C. now account for eight out of every 10 coronavirus cases, according to data from the District’s health department.
D.C. Health told WTOP in an email that for the week of 12/20/20, 48% of cases were in Non-Hispanic Black populations. In the most recent week of 5/17/21, 80% of cases were in Non-Hispanic Black populations.
“I got a troubling statistic from Dr. Nesbitt today that the percent of people of color — Black and Brown people — who are getting COVID has gone up,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a call with Ward 8 community leaders.
Bowser said the numbers are a direct result of vaccine hesitancy, and pushed people who have received the vaccine to encourage others to get it.
“It’s also helpful if people talk to people that they know — tell them what your experience is. and why it’s so important to get vaccinated,” Bowser said.
Almost 20% of Black D.C. residents are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, compared to nearly 30% of white residents, according to The Washington Post’s vaccine tracker.
Coronavirus cases involving people of color started spiking in April — around the same time the vaccine became widely available.
“And that is a direct function of vaccination, so COVID is not anything to mess with — people need to go and get this vaccine so we can get back to life,” said Bowser.
Bowser said that as D.C. continues to open up, it’s important for people to get inoculated to protect themselves from the virus.
“As the world opens up, it becomes less hospitable to people who aren’t vaccinated — in a social sense, but more importantly, in a health sense.”
She said if people do not get vaccinated, there could be a spike in cases.
“You’re putting yourself at risk and you’re putting the city at risk, because if this virus kicks up again among unvaccinated communities, it could drive our numbers up and shut us down, and none of us wants that,” said Bowser.