WSU research shows COVID-19 impacting eastern Washington more than rest of state

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Mikala Compton

SPOKANE, Wash. — Coronavirus morbidity and mortality data compiled at Washington State University show apparent inequities among people of color and those in rural areas, including eastern Washington.

Now, WSU Health Science experts want to offer their assistance and expertise to ensure equity in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts want state leaders to prioritize vaccination for underrepresentated minority populations with the intent of saving lives, reducing health disparities and easing the burdern on health care systems. Advocates also want rural populations to be given the same consideration.

“The burden of COVID-19 is much higher in eastern Washington compared to the western part of the state, contributing to higher rates of mortality in eastern Washington,” said WSU Health Sciences Vice Chancellor for Research Celestina Barbosa-Leiker. “This and other WSU research studies point to poverty and limited access to care as leading drivers of vulnerability to infection and mortality by COVID-19.”

On Friday, WSU announced many of its medical students would volunteer their time to administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Spokane Arena distribution site.

Other students, faculty and researchers are also lending time to the administer tests across eastern Washington, provide expertise on vaccine manufacturing and distribution, track COVID-19 cases in rural areas and help these communities better respond to crisis in their areas.

“Our campus is deeply committed to improving health care quality and access in rural and underserved communities in Washington. It’s critically important that better attention is paid to what’s happening in these communities.”

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