ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza addressed the data regarding racial disparities in the COVID-19 reports.
Dr. Mendoza said African-Americans make up 27.9% of the COVID-19 hospitalized population and Hispanics make up 18.6% of the hospitalized population. People of color are two times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.
Dr. Mendoza said being hospitalized for COVID-19 often directly relates to how long it takes to access care. He said communities of color don’t have the same level of access to medical care and are seeking care later.
“How can we identify people in minorities earlier in the course of the illness,” Dr. Mendoza said in a press conference on Thursday. “Can we at least prevent people from presenting later in their illness? Can we help them access their care earlier?”
According to Dr. Mendoza, ICU admission numbers are even higher in some cases, with 53.8% of patients in the ICU being black. That’s three times their population rate in Monroe County, which is 16.2%. Hispanics make up 9% of the population and make up 5% of ICU hospitalizations.
However, the COVID-19 death rate is nearly parallel to the minority group population rates.
Dr. Mendoza said he hopes to use this data to help get to those communities and get help to those who are most hospitalized.
“We know there are zip codes separated by four miles where life expectancy differs by nine years so there’s no reason we shouldn’t see disparities,” Dr. Mendoza said.
Dr. Mendoza said all the data is collected manually and he plans to collect more data as the time goes on and the virus continues to affect people in Monroe County.
“I treat data very seriously and I also think it’s very important we get it right,” he said, ” As I mentioned a lot of this process was manual and I had to do a lot of work to pull all of this data together and wether it’s early or not doesn’t matter to me, what matters is it’s right.”
Currently, there are 627 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county and 34 deaths. Of those 627 cases, 86 people are hospitalized and 39 of those patients have received treatment in an Intensive Care Unit.
“The area where we seem to be struggling the most in compared to two weeks ago is parks and recreation,” Dr. Mendoza said, confirming what the mayor said. The measurements track people based on the GPS location of their cell phone. So while people are traveling and walking in parks more, it can’t necessarily track wether they are social distancing or not.
“What I would offer is we all need to do better and we probably all could do better. Whether these websites say “A” or “D” that is something we talk about as a county is how do we educate primarily.”
Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced there are 7,067 COVID-19 deaths in New York state.
Despite the spike in deaths, the governor says the curve is flattening. Hospitalization rates are down and ICU admissions are at their lowest since March 19, according to the governor’s office.
When asked if we are at the “peak week” as some officials are referring to it, Dr. Mendoza said he doesn’t think we’re on the same track as downstate New York.
“I see no evidence of peak week here at all and I’m not sure that I see it across New York State,” Dr. Mendoza said. “I would still anticipate that if we were going to have a peak, it would still be two or three weeks off.”