Lima UMADAOP 2021 Fall Conference

Populations Among Black Why COVID-19 Are Rates Higher

A report from the CDC in April 2020 found that 33% of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were Black, although Black people made up only 18% of the studied population. Pre- existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension and obesity disproportionately impact the African American commu- nity and heighten one’s risk of becoming susceptible to the vi- rus. These conditions also increase the chance of complications if the virus is contracted. Evidence has shown that structural inequities in social as- pects, like poverty and access to healthcare, play a determining role in one’s overall health and quality of life. Racial minority groups are often especially vulnerable to these changes due to fewer available resources compared to other groups. This leads to an increased risk of not receiving proper healthcare that is crucial in the time of a global pandemic. A report from the CDC listed a variety of factors that are steady contributors to inequalities that expose minority groups to higher risks of seeing the effects from the virus. Discrimination, a lack of access to healthcare, wealth gaps and housing limita- tions are only some of the inequities that plague many Black communities. As discrimination affects countless areas of life, its existence in systems designed to provide care and life-saving support can be deadly. In healthcare systems, it decreases or revokes stan- dards of quality care. When paired with lower rates of insurance

among Black communities, as compared to their white coun- terparts, access to quality care becomes nearly nonexistent. COVID testing, vaccines and care during hospitalization can become extremely expensive and prevent someone in need of care from pursuing treatment. As disparities of income and educational levels are present between racial groups, one’s ability to leave a job that is put- ting them at risk for contracting the virus is lessened, whereas someone with a higher paying job may be in a financial po - sition that gives them more flexibility to leave that job. Bus drivers, train operators and custodians are overrepresented by people in the Black community. These are essential jobs that often require long hours and do not offer adequate health benefits to offset gaps in accessing affordable healthcare and treatments. While conclusive results have not been finalized to show if efforts to quell these disparities have been effective, many governmental and healthcare agencies are making targeted attempts to address some of these healthcare gaps. Some lo- cal initiatives are offering increased hours at testing sites to account for employees working jobs outside of the standard 9-5 schedule. Eliminating the underlying causes of disparities in wealth, healthcare and education would be instrumental in shaking these effects but will require years of dedicated work from community organizations and lawmakers at all levels.

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