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INDIANAPOLIS–African-Americans in Indiana have a better chance of getting the coronavirus that whites. The U.S. Surgeon General has a message for blacks that includes the phrase, “there’s nothing wrong with you”.

“Eighteen point five percent of our cases have been among our African-American population, compared with nearly 50 percent of our white population,” said state health commissioner Dr. Kris Box, during a Friday news conference on how Indiana is dealing with coronavirus.

Black population in Indiana: about 9 percent. Percent of people dead from coronavirus in the state: About 20 percent

She said one in five people who have died from coronavirus in the state were black, while the state’s black population is about one in 10.

“Only one in five African-Americans and one in 6 Hispanics has a job that lets them work from home. People of color are more likely to live in densely packed areas and in multi-generational housing, which create higher risk for spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19,” said the surgeon general at a Friday coronavirus task force update.

LISTEN: Surgeon General Jerome Adams on coronavirus and people of color

Adams said people of color are more likely to experience situations where they are exposed, and also increased complications. Box said that is likely because African-Americans have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes.

“We do not think people of color or biologically or genetically predisposed to get COVID-19. There is nothing inherently wrong with you,” he said. “They are socially predisposed to coronavirus exposure and to have a higher incidence of the very diseases that puts you at risk for severe complications.”

Adams said the federal government is taking steps to reach everyone who could be impacted, especially people of color.

Vice Pres. Mike Pence said the task force had had meetings with 400 prominent “leaders of the African-American community”, hoping to get more people on board with social distancing.

Adams said the task force is looking at ways to help, including “data collection, targeted outreach to communities of color, and increasing financial, employment, education, housing, social and health supports so that everybody has a chance to be healthy.”

“You are not helpless,” he said. “And it’s even more important in communities of color we adhere to the task force guidelines to slow the spread.”