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Is Coronavirus Higher In Certain Communities?

Posted at 8:18 PM, Apr 07, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — According to the nation's top doctor, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, black Americans are at a higher risk for contracting coronavirus.

Several factors support this conclusion such as unstable employment, existing health issues and little to no access to health care because of not having medical insurance.

Currently, only nine states report coronavirus cases and deaths by race. Right now, Oklahoma is not one of them.

Early data suggest in cities where black Americans make up a smaller portion of the population, they lead the way in coronavirus cases.

For instance, recent data in Chicago showed 70 percent of deaths from COVID-19 were black Americans. The city's demographic of blacks is only 30 percent.

Here in Oklahoma, reporting from the state's 2-1-1 help line shows blacks lead all other demographics in health care assistance calls since the pandemic.

In Eastern Oklahoma alone, black Americans make up 35 percent of those calls. Census data shows blacks only made up 7.8 percent of the population for the state in 2019.

Erin Willis, the program director for 2-1-1, says those calls are from people wanting to be tested, but don't have the means.

“We receive a healthy amount of calls from folks who are uninsured or underinsured," Willis said.

Willis says help is available for those lacking insurance.

"We're working closely with our local health departments to direct those folks there to be evaluated for testing," Willis said.

The Tulsa Health Department is providing free testing for those without insurance or limited insurance by appointment only. You can call 918-582-9355 to speak to a public health official.

Tulsa Council District 1 has the largest black population in Tulsa. We reached out to Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper's to find out what community concerns are. She was not available for comment.

Councilor Jeannie Cue has the second largest group of black constituents. She says the concern is those ignoring the mayor's safer at home order, possibly spreading coronavirus.

At today's coronavirus update, Mayor G.T. Bynum urged people to stay at home and stressed that Tulsa Police will continue to monitor businesses which may be violating the order.

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