WASHINGTON — This week the racial disparities that have accompanied the coronavirus outbreak in the United States became a major story. Officials in St. Louis, Detroit and a large swath of states reported that African American populations had been hit especially hard by the virus.A look at the data helps explain why. Behind the well-known daily numbers of the pandemic — the cases, hospitalizations and deaths — a mix of geography, socioeconomics and health factors make COVID-19 particularly dangerous for some minority groups.At this point, the racial disparities around the virus are impossible to ignore, with African Americans seeing higher rates of hospitalization and of fatalities.A Centers for Disease Control study of the virus found that 33 percent of those who have been hospitalized are African American — even though that racial group makes up only 13 percent of the population of the United States. Meanwhile, 45 percent of those in hospitals for the virus are white and non-Hispanic, even though that group makes up more than 60 percent of the U.S. population overall.Those are significant and damning figures to be sure, but comparing hospitalizations to national population figures ignores the way the virus has spread. The footprint of COVID-19

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