Health officials say COVID-19 is disproportionately infecting minorities

SPOKANE, Wash.– Two of the biggest stories in our country right now collide—race and COVID-19.

Here in Washington and all across the U.S., minority groups are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

For example, the Hispanic community in Washington makes up about 13 percent of the state’s population.

But, 40 percent of the 22 thousand people who have tested positive in Washington are Hispanic.

Our Black community makes up about four percent of the state’s population, yet accounts for seven percent of confirmed cases.

READ: DOH: Hispanic community disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in Washington 

This is happening nationwide.

In Michigan, 14 percent of the state population comes from black people, but now they account for 33 percent of cases in the state.

More of the same in Louisiana where black people make up 46 percent of the population, but also 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

It’s not like the virus is choosing to infect these people, so how is it happening?

“They’re in processing plants, they’re agriculture workers that are paying the price for us,” Spokane Regional Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said.

A higher percentage of minorities are essential workers, so they don’t have the luxury of working from home.

Some ethnic communities also don’t have the same access to health care, and Spokane Regional Health says those communities are also lacking PPE gear.

“We have to support communities in creating their own healthcare systems,” Toni Lodge of the Native Project said. “It’s access to care, and it’s one of the quadruple aims that we have all agreed to do in healthcare reform.”

Health officials say there may be some money under the CARES Act to provide resources to those minority groups.

Dr. Lutz also took the time to call for change all across the U.S. when it comes to equality, as he deemed the race issue as a public health emergency, too.

“The structural racism that exists, it underlies so much of what we do in public health, and if we don’t address it, we’re doing ourselves and everybody we serve an injustice,” Lutz said.