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Pandemic still hitting minority groups hard in WNY

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 23:41:31-04

A new report shows New York is one of only three states that is on track to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. "COVID Act Now" also puts New Jersey and Massachusetts at the head of the class. But, we are not out of the woods just yet, the pandemic is still hitting minority groups in Western New York harder than others.

The COVID-19 numbers from the Jericho Road Community Health Center are alarming.

Their offices typically see people from Buffalo's West and East Side, including immigrants and refugees. Their testing numbers from COVID-19 are much higher than the rest of Erie County. Less than 6% of tests across the county come back positive.

At Jericho Road, it's almost 16%. Even in the last week, 10% of their tests were positive. Doctors at Jericho Road say if you’re white, you have a 4% chance of testing positive at their facility. If you're black, that number jumps to 15%. If you're from Burma, it's 35%.

Dr. Myron Glick says people from the Burmese community tend to have essential jobs, and close knit families.

“Places where you can't easily isolate and then they're bringing that infection home to their multi-generational household,” explained Dr. Glick, who is the founder of Jericho Road.

Glick attributes the elevated numbers in black people to something else.

“Four-hundred years of racism and discrimination, African Americans came into COVID with higher cases of diabetes and hypertension,” added Glick.

Pastor Kinzer M. Pointer is a part of The African America Health Equity Task Force. A group working to spread information about COVID-19.

“To put testing in the neighborhoods where people live,” said Pointer. The task force plans to go beyond just testing. “By answering questions around food insecurity, getting people connected to primary care.”

Both Pointer and Glick say just because numbers are lowering in New York, doesn't mean COVID-19 is gone.

“We know what works. Why aren't we doing what works?” asked Pointer about PPE usage and social distancing.

“Our hope is that by getting this word out there, that by allowing people to see what's really happening, that there will be wide spread support throughout our community to take care of our neighbors,” said Glick.