MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County is a prime example of the national disparity of COVID-19 disproportionately affecting minority communities.
According to Public Information Specialist for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, Dan Suffoletto, African Americans make up 35 percent of COVID-19 cases in the county, but only account for 23 percent of the county’s overall population.
Health officials say obesity, smoking, and heart disease could cause COVID-19 symptoms to become more serious and even deadly. Stress caused by racism can play a role in exacerbating these factors.
“If you experience racism throughout your life there are situations there that will lead you to react in ways that will lead you to obesity, smoking and heart disease,” explained Suffoletto.
Health experts also say constant and consistent exposure to COVID-19 can increase the chances of contracting it. Where people live and work highly impacts this exposure.
“Use of public transportation, jobs that don’t allow working from home, lower income may be equivalent to making more trips to the grocery store and the pharmacy,” explained Dr. Glen Solomon, chairman of the Department of Health and Internal Medicine at Wright State University.
Dr. Solomon also said that minorities tend to live in closer proximity to others and with less safe green spaces that would allow for exercising and safe social distancing practices.
Dr. Solomon stresses that African Americans are battling the same pandemic as those who are white.
“There is nothing different about what minority communities could do versus majority communities to prevent COVID. It’s the same issues,” he said.
However, these minority communities are often left without certain advantages to better enable them to fight the spread of the virus.
“We’re talking about changing the way people live. We’re talking about changing the way they access healthcare. We’re talking about changing their access to education, changing their income. So it’s a broad spectrum of things, but changing the community, that’s something we think we can really get done,” said Suffoletto.
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