UB, community groups working to keep COVID-19 rates low before second wave

Posted at 6:06 PM, Oct 14, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Everyone should have an equal opportunity to live," Kinzer Pointer, co-convener for the African American Health Equity Task Force, said "your zip code should never determine your death."

Community leaders and the University at Buffalo are looking to reduce the effects of COVID-19 on Buffalo's more vulnerable communities, which are primarily black and brown neighborhoods.

"African Americans throughout the nation are twice as likely to contract COVID-19 and three times more likely to die from the illness compared to the rest of the population," Dr. Tim Murphy, Director of the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute said.

The reasons for that, according to UB, is due to high rates in poverty, unemployment, and poor access to transportation and health care. It's why the school formed a partnership between UB's Community Health Equity Research Institute, the African American Health Equity Task Force and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity. Over the summer, they helped improve access to valuable resources including testing, health care, food and transportation on Buffalo's East Side.

"We knew that COVID-19 would hit the African American community with a sledge hammer force," Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, Associate Director of the Community Health Equity Research Institute said, "and the collaboration quickly moved into action with a community information campaign to raise consciousness over the pandemic."

According to UB, Western New York is one of few regions nationally that has managed to reduce COVID-19 deaths among African Americans over the course of the pandemic. It's a small positive they hope to build on as a second wave threatens Western New York and the nation.

"Build on that achievement during the coming influenza season and the possible rise in COVID-19 cases in our area," Dr. Murphy said.

They say a start is to keep up with proper Coronavirus protocols, offer resources to the more impoverish areas of Western New York, and to prepare for flu season.

"Get a flu shot,"Pointer said, "I don't want to hear any nonsense about you not taking vaccinations."