The Health Care System is Racist, Whether Minorities Get Covid More than Non-minorities or Less, Say Public Health Officials
More spread of Covid is being seen in affluent, white communities, and that shows a health system racial inequity, say LA County Supervisor Mitchell and Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer
January 19, 2022
January 14, 2022 - At Thursday's media briefing, both LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer expressed concern over the health disparities between affluent (i.e. white) and non-afflluent (i.e. minority) communities. The reason for the concern? More affluent people are testing postive for Covid-19 than non-affluent people.
"We're currently experiencing racism in health care," Mitchell said in her opening remarks at the briefing. She left it to Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health, to explain this statement later in the press conference.
"A lot of the spread is in more affluent communities," Ferrer said. According to Ferrer, this increase in positive test numbers in affluent communities was due to health and other inequities. Wealthy people have better access to testing - and can afford to pay for expensive at-home tests while others are reduced to waiting for free tests. They can drive around to find a place to get tested. They may also catch Covid more frequently because they have to the ability to travel and go to restaurants and entertainment venues.
So, according to Mitchell and Ferrer, the fact more of the cases are among the wealthy actually means there is a health care inequity.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it didn't take long for public health officials to break down the number of Covid cases by ethnicity. By April 7, 2020, less than a month after the perceived start of the pandemic, LACDPH press releases included an exhaustive list of which ethnicities had how many cases of Covid that day.
Hand wringing ensued. "Data continues to expose disproportionality in health outcomes by race, ethnicity and income level data. Latino/Latinx people are more than twice as likely to contract the virus and are also twice as likely to die of the virus, when compared to White people. African American/Black people are 27% more likely to contract the virus and almost twice as likely to die when compared to White people," said a press release in July, 2020.
In December, 2020, the county launched a County Covid-19 Community Equity Fund to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in "communities disporportionately impacted by the virus." I.e., the poor, minority communities mentioned above. "We know the neighborhoods that are highly impacted by COVID-19 are most vulnerable due to historic and present-day inequities," said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health.
You see, oddly enough, two years ago, seeing more transmission of Covid in the MINORITY community meant there was racial inequity in the health care system.
Today, more transmission of Covid in the AFFLUENT (white) communities means there is racial inequity in the health care system.
It certainly is interesting how that works out.