UPDATED: 7:18 p.m. ET, May 22 —
After months of seeing the coronavirus ravage other parts of the world, COVID-19‘s widespread effect on the U.S. has increasingly begun to hit home for many Americans as they see as a growing number of people they know or are familiar with become diagnosed with the respiratory illness that has become a global pandemic. And after a brief spate of the fake news that Black people were somehow immune to contracting the coronavirus, a number of Black people have not only since been diagnosed but some have also died of complications from it.
One of the most recent high-profile cases reported has been Patrick Ewing. The head basketball coach at Georgetown University and NBA legend announced on Friday, May 22, that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The cases have effectively shattered misconceptions about who can contract the coronavirus. Previously, it was believed that the elderly with underlying health conditions were most at risk. And while that remains true, there has seemingly been a surge of cases involving younger age groups and people who had no pre-existing health conditions before their COVID-19 diagnoses.
One of the most recent cases of Black people being struck by the coronavirus was Dez-Ann Romain, a 36-year-old high school principal in Brooklyn who died this week. It was unclear if Romain had underlying health issues, but her young age went against the narrative that people who were older were most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Romain’s death was reported days before a 34-year-old paramedic named Christell Cadet and a 30-year-old teacher named Rana Zoe Mungin were each hospitalized in critical condition in New York City, the epicenter of coronavirus cases in the U.S.
These cases don’t account for the reports of a growing number of Black people who have been diagnosed with or died of complications from the coronavirus that have seeming flooded this writer’s social media timelines as friends and others grieve their loved ones across the country.
One of the clearest indications that Black people could indeed contract the coronavirus came when it began to affect players in the NBA, a professional sports league that is made up of more than 74 percent of players who are Black. After that came announcements from celebrities who offered cautionary tales to the public about how they may have contracted the illness and ways to prevent others from repeating their errors.
The coronavirus has also struck some of the nation’s elected officials, including one prominent member of Congress who just happens to be a Black woman. Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley has been tested for the coronavirus after she reported experiencing flu-like symptoms. She was awaiting the results as of Friday.
There was also an alarming report out of Milwaukee that middle-aged Black men have made up the majority of coronavirus cases in the Wisconsin city.
The nation’s system of prisons and jails has also been affected, leaving the disproportionate number of Black inmates increasingly susceptible to the coronavirus. That was especially true in New York, including at the infamous Rikers Island complex where CBS News reported that the coronavirus infection rate is “more than seven times higher than the rate citywide and 87 times higher than the country at large.”
In addition, the nation’s police departments were at risk for the same reasons as the jails and prisons. Most recently, Donafay Collins, a commander with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan, died following complications from the coronavirus. He was 63 years old.
More than a dozen other Wayne County Sheriff’s Office employees have also been diagnosed following a pattern seen at other police departments, including the NYPD, where the New York Post reported that more than 300 cops have tested positive.
Scroll down to see a list of notable Black folks who have contracted the coronavirus as the world tries to flatten the global curve of cases to restore some semblance of societal normalcy. They follow in alphabetical order.
1. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer
Gil Bailey, the radio broadcaster and personality known as “The G0dfather” died April 13. His death came from complications after contracting the coronavirus, according to Jamaica Observer. The native Jamaican rose to prominence on radio stations with Caribbean music programming in the New York City area.
2. Manu DibangoSource:Getty
Manu Dibango, the legendary afro-jazz saxophonist from Cameroon known for his 1972 hit, “Soul Makossa,” died March 24 following complications from the coronavirus. He was 86.
3. Dennis Dickson
Dennis Dickson may not be a household name, but the longtime NYPD employee’s death is notable because he was one of a growing number of people working at the New York Police Department who tested positive for the coronavirus. Dickson, who died March 26 at the age of 62, worked for the NYPD for 14 years at headquarters. That means he could have been exposed to other members of the force.
4. Kevin DurantSource:Getty
Kevin Durant was one of four players for the Brooklyn Nets who tested positive for the coronavirus that has also infected members of other NBA teams. The other players on the Nets who tested positive have not been identified. “Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” Durant told The Athletic in an interview. “We’re going to get through this.”
5. Larry Edgeworth
Larry Edgeworth, who worked for the TV network as an audio technician for 25 years, died March 19 of complications after contracting the coronavirus. He was 61 years old. He reportedly had an existing health condition that likely exacerbated the coronavirus symptoms that led to his death.
6. Kenneth “Babyface” EdmondsSource:Getty
The world-renowned music producer announced that he and his family all tested positive for the coronavirus but survived it and beat the respiratory illness that has killed thousands of people. He made the announcement via Instagram and admitted the ordeal was “an incredibly scary thing to go through.”
7. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba
After actor Idris Elba announced on March 16 that he had contracted the coronavirus, his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, made her own announcement days later. Her disclosure prompted discussion over whether it was right to quarantine with her husband or if the two should’ve practiced social distancing.
8. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty
Patrick Ewing, the head coach of Georgetown University’s men’s basketball team and NBA legend, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The New York Knicks’ all-time leading scorer tweeted the announcement on Friday, May 22.
“I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” the tweet said in part. “This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
It was unclear how Ewing contracted the disease that has disproportionately affected Black people.
9. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna’s dadSource:Getty
Ronald Fenty, the father of superstar singer Rihanna, counted himself as one of the lucky survivors of the coronavirus. He told the Sun about the unenviable experience he went through for about two weeks before he was able to recover. Rihanna, who paid for and sent dozens of ventilators to her native island Barbados, also sent one to her 66-year-old dad.
10. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty
Jimmy Glenn, the legendary boxing trainer who worked with some of the sport’s top fighters, died following complications from the coronavirus. He was 89 years old. Glenn had become a celebrated bar owner in New York City’s Times Square called Jimmy’s Corner. The Boxing Scene website reported Glenn’s death first.
11. Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was the first NBA player revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19. He initially was called out for not taking coronavirus warnings seriously, considering he did things like touch the surfaces of microphones during a press conference to joke about the situation. The state health department cleared Gobert on March 27 after he completed a period of self-quarantining.
12. Lee Green
Lee Green’s name is not known widely, but the former college basketball star for St. John’s University is notable here because of his death on March 23 at the relatively young age of 49 following complications from the coronavirus. His age was especially important as it upends the narrative that older and elderly people were the ones dying from the respiratory illness.
13. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry’s makeup artrist
“Mr. Charles Gregory was a hairstylist that had worked with” Tyler Perry “for many years” before he died April 8 after he “lost his battle with COVID-19,” the filmmaker wrote on Instagram.
14. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub
Samuel Hargress Jr., the owner and operator of legendary New York City jazz and blues nightclub, Paris Blues, died following complications after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 83 years old. Hargress opened the club in 1969 and ran it for 51 years. The Harlem Bespoke blog reported his death.
15. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ
“DJ Mike Huckaby, whose soulful, studied work made him one of the prominent early figures in Detroit techno and house music, died [April 24] after a lengthy hospitalization following a stroke,” the Detroit Free press reported. Huckaby tested positive for the coronavirus while he was hospitalized. He was 54 years old.
16. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty
Callum Hudson-Odoi, a professional soccer player in the Premier League with the Chelsea football club, was diagnosed with the coronavirus. He made the announcement on March 12. He is just 19 years old.
17. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer, 92
Ahmed Ismail Hussein, the legendary Somali singer and musician who was also popularly known as “Hudeydi,” was hospitalized in the UK after contracting the coronavirus. Nicknamed the “King of Oud,” a reference to the Arabic instrument resembling a guitar, died in a London hospital. His date of death was not immediately reported, but it was announced April 8.
18. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former longtime butler who worked in the White House, died in May following complications from the coronavirus. He was 91 years old. Jerman served 11 presidents, including Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black commander-in-chief. Fox News reported that “Jerman worked at the White House from 1957 to 2012 as a cleaner, a doorman, and butler.”
19. Brad “Scarface” JordanSource:Getty
The rapper more popularly known as Scarface from the legendary Geto Boys announced on March 26 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The 49-year-old Houstonian had reportedly been suffering from symptoms for weeks before he got confirmation of his condition.
20. James Mahoney, pulmonologist
Dr. James Mahoney, a pulmonologist who delayed his retirement in order to help his colleagues fight the coronavirus, died after contracting COVID-19. Mahoney died April 27 at the age of 62 following a 40-year career in medicine. The New York Times reported that Mahoney “had spent his whole career at a poorly financed public hospital” and “went to extraordinary lengths to help patients.”
21. Ellis Marsalis Jr.Source:Getty
The legendary jazz musician died April following complications from the coronavirus. He was 85 years old.
22. DeRay McKessonSource:Getty
Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson announced on April 16 that “just tested positive for COVID-19.” He went on to tweet that he experienced some of the respiratory illnesses’ milder symptoms and added that doctors told him to expect a full recovery.
23. Von MillerSource:Getty
It was announced on April 16 that NFL star Von Miller had contracted the coronavirus. NFL Network reporter Ian Rappaport tweeted that Miller was “at home resting and in good spirits.”
24. Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell is another member of the Utah Jazz who tested positive. The 23-year-old NBA All Star announced that he was participating in a challenge called #StayHomeFor to encourage people to socially distance and stay at home as the coronavirus continues to spread. The state health department cleared Mitchell on March 27 after he completed a period of self-quarantining.
25. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn
Lloyd Porter, who owned and operated the famed Bread Stuy bakery in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, has died after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
26. Wallace RoneySource:Getty
Wallace Roney, a Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter who was associated with and influenced by the legendary Miles Davis, died March 31. His death was caused by complications after he contracted the coronavirus. He was just 59 years old. Pictured: Wallace Roney plays trumpet with his orchestra during a performance in the 22nd Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, New York, New York, Aug. 23, 2014. The orchestra played a composition by Wayne Shorter written for, but not performed by, Miles Davis.
27. Marcus Smart
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart also tested positive for COVID-19. The 26-year-old posted a video on Instagram revealing the news and he encouraged everyone to practice social distancing.
28. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty
Gospel singer Troy Sneed died April 27 following complications from contracting the coronavirus. He was just 54 years old.
29. Oliver “DJ Black N Mild” Stokes Jr.
New Orleans radio personality Oliver Stokes Jr. who went by the name of DJ Black N Mild died March 19, one day after he tested positive for the coronavirus. He was 44 years old.
30. Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes
Hip-hop pioneer DJ Jazzy Jeff had hinted that he was suffering from the coronavirus weeks before he confirmed it on the “Tamron Hall Show” on April 14. He detailed his experience to the hostess and said he first started feeling symptoms in late March after attending a ski event in Idaho.
31. Karl-Anthony Towns’ parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.
NBA All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns revealed on March 24 that his mother had tested positive for the coronavirus days before it was reported on March 26 that his father was suffering from the same illness. His mother, Jacqueline Cruz, was placed in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator. She died on April 13. His father, Karl Sr., was reportedly recovering after being quarantined.