Northam calls for deeper look into racial disparities in virus deaths as Virginia’s data remains incomplete

Coronavirus

(AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As cities around the country track coronavirus cases, some places are finding much higher rates of infection and mortality in black and brown communities. In Virginia, the data on how the virus is impacting these communities is incomplete.

The Virginia Department of Health is tracking the race of confirmed cases, but there are gaps in data as not all private labs have the information to report to the state. State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said Wednesday that minorities also see harsher COVID-19 impacts due to pre-existing medical conditions.

“Much higher disease burden, twice the rate of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and a number of other issues, and these underlying problems then place these folks at higher risk of mortality from COVID-19,” Oliver told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing on the state’s virus response.

The disparity in race data is an issue nationwide, but Northam vowed to change the problem in Virginia. Oliver said Virginia is one of less than 12 states to report race and ethnicity during coronavirus testing.

With much more to learn about the virus, Northam is calling for a complete snapshot of Virginia’s cases.


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