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Descubre with Montse: COVID's effects on communities of color

(KWQC)
Published: May. 4, 2020 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Montse Ricossa:

From TV6 News, it's Descubre with Montse, I'm Montse Ricossa. Descubre means "discover" and I'm here to help you discover more about different and diverse topics in the United States. Welcome to Descubre with Montse's 9th episode, "COVID-19’s effects on Communities of Color.”

Today is Monday, May 4th. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is spreading through the entire world. As of Monday morning, with nearly 3.5 million positive cases and nearly 250,000 deaths.In the United States, there are about 1.1 million cases and over 65,000 deaths.

Those cases are seen

in communities of color.

In Chicago, 31% of patients who identified their race and ethnicity are white, 30% are Latino, and 29% are

.70% of those who died in Chicago due to COVID-19 are black, while they only make up 30% of the city's population. In Wisconsin's

, 81% of deaths from COVID-19 are black, even though that population only represents 27% of the county.

In the Quad Cities, which is a region of five cities clustered on the banks of the Mississippi River along the Iowa/Illinois border, including Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline, Illinois… we’re seeing similar trends as well.

African American residents make up about 7% of the Quad Cities population, but are about 12% of the positive COVID-19 cases. Similarly, Hispanic residents are about 9% of the population in the QCA but account for 23% of the positive cases.

As a side note: like you, I'm working from home instead of in the studio. So in parts of the interview, you may hear traffic in the background.

Montse Ricossa:

Hi, how are you?

Daniel Joiner:

Good, how are you doing?

Montse Ricossa:

Good, thanks! Can you see and hear me ok?

Daniel Joiner:

Yep, I can hear you great.

Montse Ricossa:

Today, we will be speaking with Daniel Joiner who is the Diversity & Community Impact Officer at UnityPoint Health Hospital about COVID’s effect on communities of color.

Can you explain how COVID-19 is affecting communities of color especially?

Daniel Joiner:

What we’re seeing here locally in the Quad Cities is similar to what we’re seeing across the country is really a highlight of the socio-economic differences between communities of color and those who have a little bit more resources in our community. I think what we’re seeing with the high numbers that we’re experiencing, especially in Hispanic and African American communities. That we’re seeing is, We look at some of the jobs that they hold, very high exposure-type jobs. When you talk about transportation jobs, food service, hospitality. A lot of those jobs have contact with other people at high rates which would increase the exposure of contracting COVID.

Montse Ricossa:

Hmm. So it’s partly because they have more of a risk to have it. Because we can’t work from home, right?

Daniel Joiner:

Yep, that’s a part of it. The other that we’re seeing too is just the underlying health conditions in communities of color. Higher prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, lack of nutrition and exercise are all things that can have an impact when coupled with COVID-19.

Montse Ricossa:

Can you give background as to why communities of color are more susceptible to things like diabetes, high blood pressure and lack of nutrition?

Daniel Joiner:

There are a number of different reasons you can point to. But we always talk about social determinants of health when we’re talking about those things. Like where people live, their housing conditions. Lack of transportation, their education, types of jobs that they hold. There's a number of things that when there's pandemics like this that happen, you see a disproportionate rate that impact communities because of that

Montse Ricossa:

And what can communities of color and those around them do to make sure we’re preventing the spread of it? We know to wash your hands and all of that, but is there an extra step we can take?

Daniel Joiner:

You just have to be extra vigilant and cautious. Take heed to recommendations being put out by the health departments, by the CDC. Making sure like you said that you’re washing your hands, wear a mask if you have one. And then social distance. I know some of the things are cultural that we’re seeing as well: multiple generations in a household, just the sharing of food. Some of those things you see in a community are very culture-based. Just being aware and cognizant of some of those things that we do that we may have to take a pause on it because of a risk.

Montse Ricossa:

I hadn’t thought about it that way. Because we both represent the different parts of this. And us Latinos especially have a very large family oriented system. For the older generations or those who say ‘we don’t want to break the family barriers and we’ll keep sitting close together or go out.’ What would you want them to remember through all of this?

Daniel Joiner:

I think the biggest thing is safety first. Like I said, some of those, the cultural things, things that we naturally do may just have to be put on pause for a little bit while we continue to keep each other safe. That would be the biggest thing, making sure we all do our part to make sure our families are safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Montse Ricossa:

Access to healthcare, is that also a factor? We’re seeing a lack of tests throughout the whole country. Does getting access to a doctor or lack of transportation also play a role in this?

Daniel Joiner:

Yeah, access to care is another big factor. Again, going back to some of those cultural things is just the delay in careat times that we see in some communities where individuals may wait until absolutely necessary before they see a doctor. In pandemics like COVID-19, looking at the importance of a primary care doctor, the importance of understanding where the nearest doctor is, the nearest urgent care, and how to utilize those services and not always going to an ER as a primary source of care. Those are all things everyone in the community should be aware of and educated on. So they can make better decisions for their care and also reduce the cost based on what types of symptoms they’re experiencing.

Montse Ricossa:

Yesterday I spoke with the Village of a Thousand Elders which is made up of a group of balck pastors. They were saying part of it is also cultural with face masks. Latinos and African Americans going out with face masks have a negative connotation sometimes. How do you think also plays a barrier? Because we hear all these rules but there’s different social rules that we have to follow.

Daniel Joiner:

Yeah, yeah. Some of those things are tough, right? It’s when you’re told to wear a mask so you can stay safe and there’s other potential risk in a way of profiling and that type of thing. My thought on that is to continue to do what you do to be safe and understand that some of those risks are there and you have to just be aware of those situations you’ll be put into. And really just focus on how you as an individual can focus on those situations as best as possible. I would encourage them to call the doctor or call the hospital ahead of time. Again to reduce the exposure that could potentially come with our staff members and others in the community. I think that’s another important thing we ought to keep in mind.

Montse Ricossa:

Some community outreach groups in Illinois for Latinos are saying part of the reason there’s

in positive cases among their neighborhoods is the lack of information made available to them in Spanish.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its

of COVID-19 cases by race, their data is missing racial information for three quarters of all cases. They also did not include any breakdown on demographics for the deaths.

This podcast was produced and edited by Montse Ricossa, theme music composed by Gabriel Candiani and Eduardo Moretti Valenzuela.

I'm your host, Montse Ricossa.

Hasta la próxima, until next time!