COVID-19 Task Force identifies racial disparities in COVID-19 care

WATCH: COVID-19 Task Force identifies racial disparities in COVID-19 care

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — African Americans are dying of COVID-19 at a higher rate than other ethnicities in Shelby County.

That’s one of the many racial disparities highlighted by the Shelby County Health Department Tuesday.

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50 percent of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County are African Americans, which is actually lower than the makeup of the county that is 52 percent black.

However, for Hispanics, they only makeup 5.6 of the county’s population, yet are 28 percent of COVID cases in Shelby County.

According to the CDC, African Americans are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure, be diabetic, and suffer from respiratory conditions.

These are all factors that increase the risk of death from COVID-19.

At Tuesdays’ press conference, Dr. Latonya Washington, President of the Bluff City Medical Society said there are also several other factors that affect minority populations.

They’re called social determinants of health, and they can influence health outcomes.

One is living in multi-generational households, where grandparents, parents, and grandkids all live together.

In those homes, it’s particularly difficult to socially distance and protect elderly grandparents from the virus.

“There’s also concern regarding being uninsured or underinsured with concerns about paying for healthcare-related costs, and many may have limited access or knowledge of where to seek medical care for chronic conditions, as well as coronavirus testing and care,” Dr. Washington said.

Dr. Washington also said many African Americans are a part of the essential workforce, increasing the chance of contracting COVID-19.

She said doctors need to be doing all they can to care for Shelby County residents and it’s imperative that everyone gets tested if you feel like you have symptoms, and socially isolate yourself until results come back.

Also, if you’re in need of a doctor, get help.

And of course, wear a mask.