ATLANTA — A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is giving insight in the disparity of African Americans contracting coronavirus.
The study was done across a total of eight Georgia hospitals: Seven in metro Atlanta and one in the southern part of the state. That's where the Albany area is, where a hot spot for the virus formed, killing more than 100 people.
The new study found more than 80% of COVID-19 patients were African-American.
Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Hines, medical director of Wellstar’s Center for Health Equity, who said he wasn’t surprised by the CDC’s finding, but he’s hopeful.
Three weeks ago, we told you the story of Bryce Wilson. His mother, Brenda Daye-Wilson told us her 31-year-old son worked in security, loved music and his family.
“We realized that he wasn’t getting better,” Daye-Wilson said. “This was more than just a cold or flu.”
She said Bryce was a former football player, and aside from asthma as a child, he was healthy. That was until he was hospitalized because of COVID-19.
He died April 2.
“They needed to intubate him and put him in a medically induced coma. And unfortunately, he never came back from that,” Daye-Wilson said.
In other cities hard hit by COVID-19, we’ve learned African Americans are the most impacted.
A CDC report released Wednesday confirms it’s happening in Georgia too.
They looked at more than 300 patients with COVID-19 at eight Georgia hospitals.
They found the number of hospitalized patients who were black was higher than expected: 80%.
African Americans only make up 32% of our state’s population.
“Where you live, what housing you have, what education you have, what your wealth and income is and these will impact your overall health,” Hines said.
Hines told Moore that the economic disparities that put African Americans at higher risk for other diseases come into play here and make them vulnerable to coronavirus.
“It’s not just anecdotal these are bus drivers, these are folks who have to take the train or bust to work,” Moore said.
“Yes, ma’am. These are people working in our supermarkets. So that whole aspect that social distancing is a privilege really come to light here,” Hines said
So how do we fix this? Hines said testing is part of it.
Many test sites have been drive-up only, but people who live in metro Atlanta may not have a car because they rely on public transportation.
“We need to make it culturally sensitive to get those at-risk people tested. We need to make sure we instruct them on the importance of handwashing and wearing masks even at home,” Hines said.
Wearing masks at home may be critical, especially if you have grandparents, parents and children all under one roof, or if you live in any area with a lot of people.
Hines told Moore he wasn’t surprised by the CDC report, but he’s hopeful political and health leaders will learn from this and have the knowledge to do more to help communities vulnerable to disease.
“On the one hand, I’m not surprised, and on the other hand, there is that aspect of hope to do something meaningful when we come on the other side of COVID,” Hines said.
African Americans are disproportionately getting sick from it. But just because you are black you are not more likely to be ventilated or die from COVID-19 compared to other people who get it.
Hines told Moore that it’s the social economic factors that are causing this. Right now, we do not know about anything biologically that makes African Americans more susceptible to this disease.
Getting to testing sites is another factor. That's why Fulton County is opening neighborhood testing sites that people can get to by walking, biking, or in many cases just a short drive.
The first one opened Wednesday in southwest Atlanta at the McGhee Tennis Center.
The Fulton County Board of Health said more are scheduled to open in the next few days.
Starting on Thursday, people will be able to get tested outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Arthur Blank Foundation is setting up a site in the Home Depot Backyard.
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