Coronavirus disproportionately affecting people of color

Coronavirus
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DENVER (KDVR) — National data shows COVID-19 disproportionately affects people who are black and Hispanic, but Colorado has yet to release this demographic data.

In New York City, data shows people who are Hispanic are more than twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as Caucasions. And in Chicago, 70 percent of the people dying from the coronavirus are black, but just 29 percent of the city’s population is. Many other cities and states are reporting similar data.

“It’s alarming, but not surprising that people of color have a greater burden of chronic health conditions,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday.

Those health conditions include heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma.

Plus, people of color are more likely to be employed in jobs that don’t allow them to work from home.

“The national data around racial disparities is pretty striking,” said Dr. Shanta Zimmer, University of Colorado School of Medicine Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. “I’d say that’s a complex issue and it’s related in many ways to the social determinants of health.”

The social determinants of health include the places where people live and work. Things such as poverty, limited access to healthy foods and unsafe neighborhoods often lead to poorer health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Everybody across all the health systems in the Denver area is looking very closely at their patient populations and we will look similar to other communities,” Zimmer said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports age, sex and geographic location for confirmed COVID-19 cases, but has yet to report racial and ethnic data. It is required to be filled out on the official CDC coronovirus reporting form.

For more than a week, Colorado’s state leaders have been repeatedly asked about the data. They’ve all said they will release it soon.

“We already have requested additional information from hospitals with regard to to the breakdown,” Gov. Jared Polis said Friday.

Public health experts, including the surgeon general and Zimmer said that when the coronavirus crisis is over, the country should take a look how certain parts of the population are suffering.

“The healthcare system needs to not forget that we saw this stark disparity and make changes to address it going forward,” Zimmer said. “We need to make sure that no sectors of our population are left behind.”

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