A group of concerned physicians in Virginia is demanding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization release data about what access Black communities have to coronavirus tests.
According to Buzzfeed, while the country grapples with a shortage of COVID-19 tests, some in the medical community are worried that this is just one more instance where minority groups are being disproportionately underserved.
The lack of data thoughtfully breaking down who’s been tested along the lines of race and ethnicity only provides even more opportunity for people of color to be left behind due to there being no checks and balances in place.
“We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded,” explained Dr. Ebony Hilton, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia.
“So I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that black and brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for white people.”
Currently, the CDC’s coronavirus information site reports a total of 66,371 people across the country who have been tested with a reported 15,219 confirmed cases nationally. But experts point out that those numbers alone don’t tell the full story.
“I don’t want to speak about black Americans as if we’re all the same, but there’s a lot of reasons not to trust the government to be fair in circumstances like these,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, who is running for Congress in Virginia.
“Yes, that’s a huge question, who has access to those tests … If you’re not an NBA player, it might be a little harder for Black people to get access to those tests.”
“The people who are not being tested, if testing is warranted, they need advocates,” Dr. Leigh-Ann Webb added. “And as much as they could advocate for themselves, having people specifically who are interested in health disparities, to have people who have a seat at the table advocating for you really helps.”
”To be fair, I’m not sure that they needed to track the data on race in China,” she said.
Webb stressed that this info is vital for America.
“But in the US, that would be useful information to have in the future because we already know that this virus affects disproportionately people who have comorbidities and African Americans are disproportionately affected by almost every cardiovascular disease that we have here in the United States,” she said.