(WAFF) - As COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation, data shows the virus impacting certain communities more strongly than others.
“There are quite a number of reasons why Black Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans are getting hit hard,” says Dr. Richard Besser, the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
One reason why these minority groups are more vulnerable to coronavirus is because many of these individuals have a higher risk of exposure.
“A high proportion of those groups are essential workers,” says Dr. Besser. “So, while many people have been able to work remotely, many people in these groups are frontline healthcare workers, work in transportation and food service, and so they’ve been out and have had more opportunity to be exposed.”
People in these minority groups are also likely to have pre-existing conditions for COVID-19.
“Many of the healthcare conditions - heart disease, lung disease, diabetes - occur at very high rates in these groups," says Dr. Besser.
Dr. Besser argues these issues must be addressed at a municipal level and says that starts with officials recognizing there’s a problem.
“Things could look good across an entire city or a state, but if you’re not collecting data by race, by neighborhood, by zipcode, you may have problems in certain parts of your city that you’re absolutely unaware of.”
Once these high-risk communities are identified, Dr. Besser says cities must ensure there are testing sites as well as spaces for those diagnosed with coronavirus to safely quarantine.
“We are in the early days of this pandemic, and if we don’t all do our part to ensure that everyone in our communities has the opportunity to be safe, then no one in our communities is safe.”