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Washtenaw County COVID-19 cases ‘highlight health disparities’ in area, official says

Data: 48% of hospitalized Washtenaw County residents are African American

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ANN ARBOR – The Washtenaw County Health Department has released COVID-19 data broken down by zip code and race.

While the newly published data shows that cases of the virus are present in every local zip code, the African American community has been impacted more than others.

“We know viruses do not discriminate based on location, race, ethnicity, or national origin,” Jimena Loveluck, Health Officer with the Washtenaw County Health Department said in a statement. “However, viruses like COVID-19 can highlight health disparities that are deeply rooted in our society.”

As of April 2, 44% of confirmed cases in the county are residents of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township with the zip codes 48198 and 48197, respectively.

Twenty-nine percent of Washtenaw County residents live in these zip codes and 48% of the 112 residents who have been hospitalized after contracting the virus are African American.

With twelve percent of Washtenaw County’s population identifying as African American, the Washtenaw County Health Department said the findings stem from a long-existing issue.

According to a Health Department release:

“Due to structural and environmental racism, African Americans are more likely to have underlying health conditions like heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, and are less likely to have access to healthcare in both Washtenaw County and across the country. These factors may be able to explain some, but not all of the disparate effects coronavirus is having on our African American communities.”

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Other economic and societal factors like working in professions where remote work is not an option and living closer together put people of color and low-income individuals at a greater risk of infection.

“We recognize that not everyone has the same ability to stay home,” Loveluck said in a statement. “Farmworkers who grow the food we eat, and service and transportation workers who make it possible for us to get this food continue to work every day. People who don’t have the resources or transportation to get necessities are also suffering.”

The Health Department said it recommends staying at home as much as possible, washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and maintaining at least a six feet distance from others while out.

Those in need of essential resources can call 2-1-1 or view Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development’s list of community services.

For the latest COVID-19 updates in Washtenaw County, visit www.washtenaw.org/3108/Cases.

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