COVID-19 Healthcare Disparities Information

April 15, 2020

Across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities, particularly African Americans.

African Americans comprise approximately 13% of the population in the United States but according to the hospital data from the first month of the U.S. epidemic released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (*attached below), nearly 33% of African Americans were hospitalized. In addition, 90% of all the patients (including African Americans) admitted to the hospital had an underlying health condition. The most common conditions were hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, and diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, African Americans are more likely to develop these chronic conditions which can impair their immune system leading to further complications from viruses such as COVID-19. https://bit.ly/2K3qePB

Less access to healthcare, unemployment, lack of affordable and healthy food in their neighborhoods are some of the reasons that lead to detrimental health outcomes for many African Americans. COVID-19 is not novel in highlighting the enormous amount of health disparities in the United States amongst African Americans, this is the same story for diseases such as Alzheimer's.

To help address the disparities in the Greater Boston area, Partners Community Health has launched a new COVID-19 Strategy with four main goals:

-Expanding testing to better identify COVID-19 positive individuals in these communities
-Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 with door-to-door distribution of multilingual information and “care kits” with masks and other key items
-Identifying housing and support mechanisms for those individuals who are COVID-19 positive but cannot safely isolate at home without the risk of spread
-Creating routine channels of communication with community members, using care managers and community health workers, to focus on COVID-19 positive individuals and those at-risk to assess ability to isolate, symptoms and the need for additional service

The Partners COVID-19 Hotline can be reached at 617-724-7000. Links to additional resources are located below: https://www.boston.gov/departments/food-access/map-meal-sites-boston
https://www.boston.gov/news/covid-19-resource-guide-bostons-immigrants
https://www.boston.gov/news/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-boston

For information on how the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is addressing healthcare disparities in research participation, contact: oburke@bwh.harvard.edu.