COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Health officials stress the coronavirus can affect anyone at anytime, but they are finding higher death rates in African American and minority communities.
“We are seeing a disparity around the country with African Americans with COVID-19,” said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.
You can find Dr. Roberts full interview with NBC4 below:
That disparity has yet to occur in Columbus where African Americans make up two of the six deaths in the city. Dr. Roberts said people with underlying health problems are more likely to die and complications such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are more prevalent in African American and minority communities.
“Some of them have to do with genetics, but a lot of them have to do with lifestyle and behavioral issues,” Dr. Roberts said.
She points to issues within African American communities such as lack of access to healthy food options and lack of access to healthcare, which lead to underlying health conditions in the first place.
“If for whatever reason you don’t have access to healthcare or don’t utilize your access to healthcare, that doesn’t predispose you to these diseases,” Dr. Roberts said. “But it could mean that you’re not managing the disease as best as you could.”
She added some people don’t even know they have any underlying conditions.
“It’s not surprising knowing that African Americans are disproportionately affected by those diseases,” Dr. Roberts said. “We see a high percentage of African Americans that require hospitalization from COVID-19.”
38 percent of African Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 in Columbus are hospitalized, which is on par with the national average.
Dr. Roberts stressed good hygiene and social distancing is very important in saving lives in a community where the virus seems to be deadlier.
“It’s not about scaring them,” she said. “It’s about empowering them with accurate information so they can act accordingly.”
She added if you’re feeling any symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor or Columbus Public Health at 614-645-1519.