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Numbers show black COVID-19 patients more likely to end up in hospital, require intensive care

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 18:27:13-04

PARMA, Ohio — New numbers from Cuyahoga County's Board of Health show black COVID-19 patients are more likely to end up in the hospital and more likely to be admitted to intensive care units than white patients.

Health department numbers for Cleveland's Cuyahoga County suburbs show African Americans made up one-third of the nearly 1,700 COVID-19 cases diagnosed so far. White patients accounted for 55% of those diagnosed with the virus.

But black patients made up 38% of those hospitalized because of the virus, while 53% have been white according to county health officials. Of those admitted to intensive care units with the virus, 45% have been black while 46% have white according to CCBH statistics.

About 30.5% of Cuyahoga County's population is black while 63.6% is white, according to the United State's Census Bureau.

"We need people to hear us, COVID-19 is impacting the African American community severely nationwide," said Romona Brazile, Deputy Director of Prevention and Wellness for Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

Health officials said Friday that there were likely a number of reasons why black patients made up a disproportionate number of those hospitalized from the virus, including a history of racial inequalities in the Cleveland area.

"When you hear us talk about disparities or differences in health outcomes which are complex, they're related to underlying health problems which are related to unequal opportunities around housing and jobs related to structural racism," said Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett.

Health officials say that structural racism is something they'll continue to fight while urging everyone to come together to try and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

"We know that many people may be weary of wearing masks due to the fear of being stigmatized," Brazile said. "But you are in the right when you wear a mask. Don't let fear stop you from helping to protect our communities."