COVID-19 hitting Black and Latino communities hard

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: April 09, 2020 06:32 PM
Created: April 09, 2020 06:15 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New data shows Black and Hispanic people in our community are twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital for complications from COVID-19 and Black people are three times as likely to end up in the ICU.

The Monroe County Health Commissioner warns the numbers are a snapshot of what’s happening right now and changing by the day but there is growing concern among minority communities.  


“We know, in this community, there are zip codes that are separated by four miles where the life expectancy differs by almost nine years so there was no reason to anticipate that we would not see healthcare disparities in this data,” Dr. Michael Mendoza, the Monroe County Health Commissioner explained on Thursday.  

African Americans are more likely to have chronic illnesses tied to a lack of access to care. That, likely plays a role in the COVID-19 numbers.

“And then there’s housing and access to the ability to properly self-quarantine and self-isolate is not something that is equally distributed across our community as well,” Dr. Mendoza said.  

Jerome Underwood runs Action for a Better Community.

“The lack of action in front of the response to this pandemic is disappointing,” Underwood told News10NBC.  

Melanie Funchess, the director of community outreach for the mental health association agrees and wants more information about the access black people are getting to testing, 

“Are there patterns of who is getting tested and where and who lives where, where people are being tested, these are all things we need to know to be able to have a more accurate picture of what we're looking at,” Funchess said.

Dr. Mendoza says testing has been limited for everyone because there haven’t been enough supplies but he admits, at this point, he can’t answer Funchess’ questions.

“I've gotten a lot of questions about this… Why aren't we reporting on the test data with regard to race and ethnicity? the answer is that we don't have those data,” Mendoza said.  

Both Underwood and Funchess say access to healthcare and testing in minority communities has to be a priority as we move through this pandemic.

“A lot of people of color are front line workers, we are the essential workforce, these are your patient care techs, your CNAs, these are your bus drivers, your public service employees,” Funchess said.

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