WOWK 13 News

COVID-19 afflicting a disproportionate number of minorities

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — While fears and concerns about Coronavirus have gripped the nation, including West Virginia, one group, in particular, has been hit especially hard. In places such as Chicago and Louisiana, 70% of the deaths from COVID-19 were minorities.

Here in Kanawha County, with a 9% minority population, people in those groups are statistically three times more likely to get infected and die.

“So these underlying issues of poor health concentrated in densely populated neighborhoods, and other issues, we believe makes us a vulnerable community. And we’re not sure the administration and the public health people fully understand that,” said Rev. Matthew Watts, Grace Bible Church – Charleston.

Because of that, community leaders have asked the state to ramp up testing in heavily minority-populated neighborhoods. Next Tuesday there will be four-hours of free COVID -19 testing at Mary C. Snow Elementary on Charleston’s West Side. Many in that neighborhood already have high risks for health problems – like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, making them even more susceptible to Coronavirus.

“I think we always need to struggle in every way, to try to do anything and everything we can to protect all of our people, from all walks of life and everything. But especially those who are struggling and having a bit of a tougher time,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

The governor’s office on minority affairs will be assisting health officials to the achieve that goal.

“Minority group leaders are asking the State Legislature to set up a state-wide task force to examine all health problems both physical and mental – that disproportionately affect minority communities,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.