COVID-19 affects communities of color at an even higher rate

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By Montse Ricossa, courtesy of KWQC

        

COVID-19 is affecting everyone, but recent studies have found it affects communities of color even more. In the Quad Cities, African American residents make up about 7% of the population, but are about 12% of the positive COVID-19 cases, according to Ashe Simpson from UnityPoint Health. Similarly, Hispanic residents are about 9% of the population in the QCA but account for 23% of the positive cases.

It’s a trend we’re seeing nationwide. In Chicago, 70% of those who died due to COVID-19 are black, while the city’s population is only 30% black. In Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, 81% of deaths from COVID-19 are black, even though that population only represents 27% of the county.

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There are different factors that go into why communities of color are 

disproportionately affected by the virus, including holding high-risk jobs like those in transportation and food service, according to Daniel Joiner who works as UnityPoint Health’s Diversity & Community Impact Officer. Minority groups are also less likely to be able to work from home since they may be essential workers, therefore having a higher chance of exposure to COVID-19.

“We always talk about the social determinants of health where people live, their housing conditions, lack of transportation, education, types of jobs that they hold. There’s a number of things that when there are pandemics like this that happen, there is a disproportionate rate that impacts communities because of that,” explains Joiner.

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Health conditions in communities of color also play a factor, Joiner says. Heart disease, high blood pressure, lack of nutrition, and lack of exercise are more prevalent in those communities.

Joiner believes part of the reason Latinos and African-Americans see a higher rate of positive cases is due to cultural reasons. They’re more likely to have “multiple generations in a household, sharing food. Some of those things that are cultural, you have to be cognizant and aware of what we do that we may have to take a pause on it because of a risk,” he says.

Making sure everyone has access to care is crucial in making sure the virus doesn’t continue to spread. Joiner says there is a “delay in care in some communities where individuals may wait until absolutely necessary until they see a doctor.” He says everyone needs to know the importance of having a primary care doctor, know where your nearest urgent care is, and not go to the emergency room as a primary source of care.

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If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or aren’t sure, it’s best to call your doctor before going to the hospital to reduce the chance of spreading and catching the virus.

UnityPoint Health is offering free virtual care for those with COVID-19 symptoms until the end of April. From then on, visits will be $39, even without health insurance.

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