‘Discrimination, racism intensifying in pandemic’

Coronavirus

Multnomah County health officials discussed data on Tuesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Data shows people of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Multnomah County public health officials said Tuesday morning.

The data focuses on race and ethnicity for cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Epidemiologist and research scientist Dr. Aileen Duldulao said she wasn’t surprised by the higher rates of infection and death in these populations.

“Black, indigenous people of color, because they’re more likely to be grocery workers, janitorial staff, don’t have the privileges to telework, don’t have the luxury of isolating,” Duldulao said.

But she stressed more testing and data collection needs to be done. Multnomah County commissioners said they’re working to influence private labs to record negative tests, too, to round out the results.

Multnomah County Public Health Director Rachel Banks said COVID-19 is impacting groups differently because of inequities.

“Discriminations, racisms, system oppressions and segregation are intensifying and worsening in the pandemic,” Banks said. “And if we’re not intentional, folks will be left behind again, suffering the worst longterm impacts of the pandemic.”

By ramping up data collection and by including thorough race and ethnicity information during testing, public health officials say it will help them understand how to stop the spread by finding out where and who the virus is hitting the hardest — and getting them the right resources.

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