April 16, 2020 Conyers: Emory Hospital RN Aisha Bennett takes a nasal swab test for COVID-19 in a drive through site at the Georgia International Horse Park recently on Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Conyers. Gov. Brian Kemp has made it a priority to expand testing in Georgia, which has lagged behind many other states in testing on a per capita basis. Public health experts say Georgia and other states need a substantial ramp up in testing to help isolate the virus and future outbreaks. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Google and Morehouse medical school to study COVID-19 race disparities

There’s been ample data showing the novel coronavirus is disproportionately impacting African Americans.

An Atlanta medical school has been tasked to research the reasons behind the disparity.

Google announced Thursday it’s providing a $1 million grant to Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute to collect and analyze data to explore why communities of color have had higher diagnoses of COVID-19. A team of Google engineers and data scientists will work full-time over the next six months to support the project.

> RELATED: Outbreak apparently taking a heavier toll on blacks

As of Thursday showed about 45% of Georgians who’ve died from the disease are African American, state data shows. About 32% of Georgia’s population is African American, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine, walks across the school logo in the lobby of the building bearing his name, the Louis W. Sullivan National Center for Primary Care, during a visit in 2014. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Google and the medical school said in a news release they hope their research “will help policymakers better understand how to ensure those communities receive the targeted help that they need to close those racial gaps and ensure the communities receive the resources and support that they need to battle the virus.”

» RELATED: Autopsies find black COVID-19 victims’ lungs filled with blood clots

Morehouse School of Medicine released a report earlier this month that found COVID-19 cases are higher in Georgia counties where more African Americans live, even after stripping out factors like poverty, health insurance and population density.

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