MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — COVID-19 is having a lopsided effect on some Minnesotans, and there are troubling numbers to prove it.

Data from the Mayo Clinic shows, in the U.S., death rates in the African-American and Latinx communities are two times higher than white Americans. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers are trying to stop the COVID disparity.

The year of the pandemic is the year no one saw coming. Like many parents, Minneapolis father Jamar Nelson has been trying to keep his family healthy, especially his parents.

“I wear a mask for my community, myself, and my parents that I engage with on a daily basis,” he said.

He says he is not surprised to hear his community is taking an extra hard hit from COVID-19.

“I hope politicians realize there is a lack of access, healthcare for Black and Brown people,” he said.

In fact, politicians met to discuss that exact topic Wednesday morning. A special house committee learned some hard information from local experts.

Dr. Dimitri Drekonja, with Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity, explained the disparity

“Number one, the COVID-19 pandemic in America really is effecting people of color far more severely than white Americans, and number two, there is no biological reason to explain this. There’s nothing we know that can explain this, so this is all things within our control.”

Numbers show every ethnicity is more at risk than white people. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Latinx Minnesotans are seven times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white Minnesotans. Black Minnesotans are six times more likely to test positive.

“I can say from both reading on this and from interviewing patients as they come in as to what their risk factors are, the risks that lead to people becoming more infected or to worse outcomes are known. And they’re risks that cluster in people who have certain disadvantaged populations,” Drekonja said.

Dr. Farhiya Farah is director of public health programs at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

“The differences in social positions — income, education, occupation, race, ethnicity, immigrant status — it makes a difference in exposure, susceptibility, particularly related to severe COVID-19 diseases. All this led to the horrific statistics,” Dr. Farhiya Farah, director of public health programs at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, said.

Now it’s up to lawmakers to figure out about funding. Possible solutions: more immunizations in general, like flu shots, more paid sick leave, and printing more COVID-19 education in different languages.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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