COVID – 19 Pandemic and Racial Disparities: 41% of Syracuse Cases are African-American

29.67% of the City’s Population is African American – Onondaga County’s African-American population is 11.4% with 27.8% of confirmed coronavirus cases,  SCHC Testing site (photo)

It was March 16th when Onondaga County reported its first case of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus. As news reports told of people flooding hospitals in the New York City area, Gov. Andrew Cuomo began sounding the alarm as projections of casualties by the thousands began to flood newscasts. What began as an outbreak on the west coast, had ballooned into a full blown pandemic in New York State.

Numbers of those infected by the virus and the death toll rose steadily as the state developed an action plan designed to “flatten the curve”. Gov. Cuomo and local government officials utilized a variety of techniques designed to bring down the level of possible infections, masks, social distancing and hand washing. As the virus made its way across the country, statistical trends were developing regarding the disease and its transmission. Those with underlying health conditions were the most vulnerable, and we were told those over 65 should be especially careful about possible exposure.

COVID-19 and Chicago: How is the pandemic going to Impact the African American Community?

“In Chicago of the first 100 deaths from coronavirus, 70 were African-American” according to ProPublica. While African Americans make up 30% of Chicago’s population, the disease had a disproportionate impact on its African American community.  From the beginning the disease appeared to be most brutal to those with underlying medical conditions, which were deemed to be contributing factors.  That being said, I wanted to look at Syracuse and our African-American population to determine if those national trends are replicated here, in upstate New York.

COVID-19 and the Syracuse/Onondaga County African American Community 41%/29%

Syracuse numbers were sobering, 41% of Syracuse COVID-19 cases are African-American while 29.67% of the City’s Population is African American. If you extend the analysis into Onondaga County, African-Americans have 27.8% of cases and make up 11.4% of Onondaga County’s population.

When you drill into zip codes, there are areas with numbers that stand out, on the city’s Southside, 13205 there are 354 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 13203 has 352 confirmed, while 13208 indicates 293 confirmed cases. (chart numbers have been updated 7-7-2020)

Most important in managing the pandemic is government at the local level, Onondaga County’s proactive leadership in monitoring the outbreak by testing, creating the Syracuse Community Health Center COVID-19 testing location for the uninsured. Over the last few months, mobile testing has been implemented as part of the effort to provide an adequate number of tests results to move on to the next step of reopening the areas economy.

Both Onondaga County Executive J.Ryan McMahon II with his daily COVID-19 briefings and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Syracuse Common Council and others; provide their weekly update on how the pandemic is impacting city lives and operations.

Yesterday, the County Executive issued an extension of previous orders that are only issued for short durations.  The following were extended:

On Thursday July 9, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh will be issuing a Proclamation recognizing artist Carrie Mae Weems for her COVID outreach to Black, Brown and Native communities.

Lack of Adherence to Health Department Mandates

Well before the “Rye Day,” tragedy on June 20th (that drew hundreds of people to a “celebration” where 9 were shot), there were mass gatherings in Syracuse. On any given day, drive into the effected zip codes, those with high COVID-19 rates and there are several commonalities: Mass gatherings/parties without face coverings, many corner stores not practicing social distancing and employees not wearing a mask. National chain retail stores in our poorest neighborhoods with employees wearing masks on their chin.  The aforementioned is a recipe for disaster as our county’s numbers have experienced a slight increase after remaining relatively stable.

As New York State slowly reopens there’s a ticking timebomb that resides in our urban neighborhoods. COVID-19 outcomes are hampered by diabetes and heart disease among other chronic conditions. In Syracuse, our chances of contracting COVID-19 due to this pandemic are exacerbated by non-compliant store employees and to be blunt, people not taking this pandemic seriously.

If you live in Syracuse, 41% of COVID-19 cases are African-American while 29.67% of the City’s Population is African American, now that’s something to think about as we move through Phase 4, in an attempt to emerge from our “pause”.

 The following data is from the Onondaga County Health Department

COVID-19 Data and Reports “click” on any chart to enlarge

Data are a critical tool for understanding how COVID-19 is impacting our community. The data presented on this page provide a summary of what is currently known about confirmed COVID-19 cases in Onondaga County. The sections below include a current snapshot of new cases and cases to date as well as demographic data for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Onondaga County and Syracuse.

See the Onondaga County GIS maps for a breakdown of active and recovered cases by municipality/town and by ZIP code within the city of Syracuse. 

Hospitalization Data for COVID-19 Cases—Onondaga County

Hospitalization Data for COVID-19 Cases—Onondaga County
The data presented below provide an overview of COVID-19 hospitalizations among residents of Onondaga County. This section includes current hospitalization data, trends over time, and a breakdown of hospitalizations by race. Please note, Total Hospitalizations to Date refers to the number of hospitalizations occurring to date, and does not indicate the number of cases who have been hospitalized. Some cases have been re-hospitalized and count more than once.

Racial Disparities in COVID – 19 Hospitalizations Onondaga County

Mortality Data for COVID-19 Cases—Onondaga County
The data presented below provide a breakdown of COVID-19 deaths by race for residents of Onondaga County. The graph represents deaths occurring in hospitals or within the community. Deaths occurring at nursing homes have been excluded.

Demographics of COVID-19 Cases—Onondaga County
Below are demographic data for confirmed COVID-19 cases to date among residents of Onondaga County (updated weekly, last update 7-7-20).

Demographics of COVID-19 Cases—Syracuse

Below are demographic data for confirmed COVID-19 cases to date among residents of Syracuse. Please note the Onondaga County data presented in the section above are inclusive of Syracuse residents (updated weekly, last update 7-7-20).


Onondaga County COVID – 16 Community Resources:

Onondaga County COVID-19 Resource Numbers

Testing for COVID-19
Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19, even if you have no symptoms:

Mobile clinic on Friday, July 10:
Tucker Missionary Baptist Church | Register | Pdf Flyer

Walk-up and drive-thru testing is available at Syracuse Community Health Center, 819 South Salina Street in Syracuse every Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm. Testing is also available at primary care offices, call for details. Other mobile clinic locations are being planned and announced as they become available.

Anyone who is tested and is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must self-quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Individuals with negative test results will be notified by the office/clinic that provided the test and may end quarantine at that time.