A national concern has been whether access to health care and economics had disproportionately affected African Americans.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first breakdown of COVID-19 case data by race, showing that 30% of patients across the country whose race was known were black. The federal data was missing racial information for 75% of all cases, however, and did not include any demographic breakdown of deaths, according to The Associated Press.
The latest Associated Press analysis of available state and local data shows that nearly one-third of those who have died are African American, with black people representing about 14% of the population in the areas covered in the analysis."
As of Thursday, 48% of the 77 positive Killeen coronavirus cases are African-American residents, according to newly released demographic information from the Bell County Health District COVID-19 website.
Bell County’s number do not show a trend, however, because the number of total of confirmed coronavirus cases is too small a statistical sample to make any determinations, according to Amanda Robison-Chadwell with the Bell County Health District.
As of Thursday, Bell County is at 174 positive coronavirus cases — no new cases reported and there was an increase in recoveries from 73 to 79.
Out of the overall total of confirmed Killeen cases, 37 were reported as black, 28 white, 11 did not report their race and one identified as Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Out of the total number of whites, 14 identify themselves as Hispanic.
Among the black cases, 19 are female and 18 male; while the number of male and female white Killeen patients are at 14 each.
Even county wide, numbers are “barely sufficient for a meaningful analysis, much less at the city level,” Robison-Chadwell said.
“It is statistically unreliable at the city level because the sample size is too small,” Chadwell said. “In addition, with recent cases as we investigate contacts the information can change. For example, we may get a patient form where a person is selected as non-Hispanic, and we talk to them and they say they are Hispanic or people that previously didn’t report the data may decide to share it etc. The data is in development and can change.”
By age alone, most of the Killeen cases, 20, are those from the 40 to 49 category. In each of the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups, there are 12 cases. There are 17 cases in the 50-59 age group; eight in the 60-69 age group and five in the 70-79 age group. The data also showed three cases where the patient was under the age of 20 -- all the youngest are black.
According to the 2019 U.S. Census, Killeen has 149,103 residents — 43% white, 38% black, and 25% Hispanic or Latino. The Bell County data listed Hispanic as an ethnicity within the categories of black, white and Pacific Islander.
Killeen NAACP Branch President TaNeika Driver-Moultrie addressed national reports of some areas in which the number of blacks diagnosed is disproportionate to the population.
“We at the NAACP are not shocked at the percentage of blacks that are affected by COVID-19 in many communities throughout the country,” Driver-Moultrie said. “We see that COVID-19 doesn’t have one face.”
As the state relaxes rules on staying at home, Driver-Moultrie said she would like to see whether the city would have a mass distribution of masks for residents after receiving more than $613,000 in COVID-19 federal funding.
On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council approved in a unanimous vote for funding for nine benefitted projects, including the purchase of 20 EPIX360 electrostatic disinfectant sprayers for public safety departments and city custodial staff to use to sanitize vehicles and offices, 10 4G modems and $200,000 in testing assistance for AdventHealth-Central Texas, mostly for purchasing testing kits.
Leslie Hinkle, the city’s executive director of community development, told the Herald on Thursday providing masks to the public would be an allowable use under the CARES Act funding restrictions.
“However, (the) City Council did not approve funding for that in their action Tuesday,” Hinkle said.
Herald reporter Hunter King contributed to this report.