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COVID-19 racial disparities re-emerge in omicron for Blacks, Hispanics – WSOC TV

By January 27, 2022COVID-19

CHARLOTTE — New data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows COVID-19 infections are once again disproportionately impacting Black and Hispanic communities in North Carolina.

Since Dec. 26, 2021, the agency says the rate of infections has been twice as high among the Black population as compared to the white population and as much as 57% higher among the Hispanic population as compared to the non-Hispanic population.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Charlotte sees dramatically shorter COVID-19 testing lines; NC positivity rate down]

Keon Lewis, the equity coordinator for the Cabarrus Health Alliance, told Channel 9 that his agency is seeing the disparities, too. While the Black population is seeing increased COVID-19 infection rates in Cabarrus County, the Hispanic population is being hit especially hard. Although it makes up 11% of Cabarrus County’s total population, the Hispanic community makes up 24% of cases and 25% of deaths.

“It’s difficult,” Lewis explained. “There are some aspects of it that are very surprising, and I think when you learn of that data and that information, it makes you work even more diligently to do what’s best to alleviate the barriers that exist.”

Lewis said he and CHA are working hard to identify what’s driving the infections. So far, he explained that the biggest culprits are misinformation and myths about the vaccine, which are ultimately leading people to not get the shots.

To combat that, CHA has partnered with community groups like El Puente Hispano to hold weekly vaccine clinics within Hispanic communities. They’re also spreading testing sites throughout Cabarrus County for equitable access, making COVID-19 information available in both English and Spanish and utilizing Community Health Workers to go out into affected neighborhoods to speak with people face-to-face.

CHW’s have supported education on COVID-19 and vaccines, testing and vaccine events, PPE distribution and referrals to address social support needs. Since its inception, NCDHHS reports that the CHW program, statewide, has reached more than 1.4 million people, referred 145,000 for social supports and scheduled more than 47,000 for COVID-19 vaccination.

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“I think those are the things that are going to help us maintain the optimism we need and make sure we do the best we can to mitigate the virus,” Lewis said.

In a press release, NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said vaccines, boosters and masks are the best tools available to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. And with equity as a focus in its pandemic response, the agency is focusing on delivering those lifesaving tools to historically marginalized populations during the omicron surge. Specifically, NCDHHS is delivering N95 masks to community organizations, childcare programs and long-term care facilities across the state.

If you’d like to schedule a vaccine appointment through El Puente Hispano’s clinic held every Thursday, please call 980-389-0615.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina or to find a vaccine location:

(Watch the video below: Clinic in University City helps Hispanic community get COVID-19 vaccine)

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