Pandemic exposes ‘our health system does not serve all’

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Latinx, African-American communities have higher rates of COVID-19

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Data shows members of the Latinx and African-American communities have seen higher rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths around the country.

Dr. Alicia Fernandez from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital told lawmakers the Latinx community is disproportionately impacted in other ways.

“Ninety percent of those testing positive were unable to work from home compared to about half of the entire sample,” she said.

House Democrats Earl Blumenauer, Mike Thompson and Lloyd Doggett weighed in during a Congressional session that brought doctors and researchers to testify.

Blumenauer noted the “grotesque disparities that we see in terms of African American communities, certainly here in Oregon.” Thompson, who represents Sonoma County in California, said “the Hispanic community accounts for almost 60% of the COVID cases while they make up only 27% of our population.” And Doggett said, “In Austin, Travis County, one-third of the community is Latinx and they account for three-fourths of the cases.”

“We should be asking why are black and Latino people less likely to be working from home, less likely to be insured, less likely to live in unpolluted neighborhoods?” Dr. Ibram Kendi of American University said. “The answer is racist policy.”

Kendi said short term solutions include more COVID-19 testing in minority neighborhoods.

Texas Republican Kevin Brady said the disparities didn’t arrive with the pandemic.

“That people of color are impacted more reveals what we’ve known for too long: that our health system does not serve all.”

That’s why experts said long-term solutions are needed too, like improving schools in minority neighborhoods so those communities are better equipped to deal with future public health emergencies.

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