Fact Check: New York prioritizing non-white people for COVID-19 treatment

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Have you seen the talk on social media about non-white people being prioritized for COVID-19 treatments? You may have missed it over the holidays. Could race really be a factor when providers decide who gets antiviral COVID treatments that are in low supply? News10NBC’s Nikki Rudd has a fact check.

Here’s the tweet from a columnist for the New York Post and Fox News.

"NY State Department of Health warns they don’t have enough Paxlovid or Monoclonal Antibody Treatment and white people need not apply," tweeted Karol Markowicz.

Then there’s an article on FOX News with the headline: "New York says it will prioritize non-White people in distributing low supply of COVID-19 treatments."

As you can imagine this got a lot of people talking. So News10NBC reached out to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

Here’s the response we got from NYSDOH Spokesperson Erin Silk: "No one in New York is being turned away from life-saving treatment because of their race or any demographic identifier."

However, Silk went on to say health care providers are being told to consider a person’s health-based risk factors.

Look at the notes at the bottom of the NYSDOH’s prioritization guidance below:

Prioritization of Mabs During Resource Shortages 20211229 by News10NBC on Scribd

"Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19."

NYSDOH officials say that guidance comes directly from the CDC.

Take a look here. The CDC says," Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put various groups of people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, including many people from certain racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities."

Now let’s look at the data that backs up that claim. Here are the numbers:

According to the CDC, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and Native Americans are all-around two times more likely to die from COVID than whites.

When it comes to hospitalization, Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos are around two-and-a-half times more like to end up in the hospital with COVID than white people. For Native Americans, it’s more than three times more likely.

While the NYSDOH says no one is being turned away from life-saving antiviral treatments, health care providers are being told to prioritize non-whites when it comes to risk factors. That is a fact.

Senior citizens and people who are immunocompromised are also prioritized in New York.

The NYSDOH has requested more doses of antiviral treatments from the federal government as supply is still limited.