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Doctor says COVID shining light on healthcare disparities among minorities: 'We are dying'

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80 percent of patients in hospitals were Black. Infection rates continue to be higher in minority populations.

ATLANTA — Dr. Michelle Albert says there's always been inequality in healthcare, but this global pandemic has shined a light on just how bad that gap is.

"As an African American woman, I can tell you, we are dying," Dr. Albert said.

Albert, who spoke on behalf of the Association of Black Cardiologists has felt the effects of COVID-19 personally.

"It's extremely scary,” she said. “I'll tell you that my mom had COVID and it was extremely scary and a difficult time."

She said that experience inspired her to really look at how Black women are impacted by the virus.

"African American women who are oftentimes left out of a lot of studies and a lot of work are at the intersection of the worst economic and health disparities in this country,” Albert said. “They tend to be breadwinners in their household, they tend to live in multi-generational households."

Albert said Black and Latinx families are more likely to live with grandparents and children. And that makes the possibility of going back to school in just a few weeks even more frightening.

While children may not get critically ill, COVID-19 could seriously impact family members they pass it on to.

"If corporate Atlanta is not opening up, if these municipalities are not opening up, why are we sending our young vulnerable children to school, who can get infected, come back home and infect their parents, their grandparents, their siblings?" Thomas W. Dortch Jr. said.

Dortch is the national chairman of 100 Black Men of America and said he's seen racial inequality in healthcare for years.

11Alive looked at the numbers here in Atlanta. For every 67 white people who get the virus-- there are 98 Black people with COVID-19.

"It is extremely high and is a crisis actually," Dr. Albert said.

She said she wants her study to highlight how seriously everyone needs to take the recommendations by the CDC to socially distance, wear a mask, wash your hands with soap and water but also to raise the alarm that people in minority communities are getting sicker and we all need be aware of that.


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