MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On this day of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. there is a lot of discussion about how COVID-19 is disproportionally affected minority populations when it comes to the number of populations and deaths. The State of Tennessee has a new way to easily compare information regarding African American and Latino communities on what is called the health disparities dashboard.
"I don't think there is any black person I have met who doesn't know someone who has died from COVID-19 or is sick from COVID-19," said Dr. Chii Onyegocha, Baptist Healthcare.
Dr. Chii Onyeagocha is Director of Pharmacy at Baptist Healthcare. She knows first and foremost how COVID -19 is affecting minorities communities. That is why when she looks at the data, she isn't surprised by what it says.
"The snapshot is pretty much a true picture of what we see in the hospitals," said Dr. Onyeagocha.
The health disparities dashboard shows rates of COVID cases for minorities by zip code across Tennessee.
It breaks out the information for African American populations and Latino populations. It gives a summary of cases connected to hospitalizations and deaths and then further breaks it down comparing case and mortality rates to white people.
You can find it on the state of Tennessee Health Department COVID-19 information page.
Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson says he is glad the disparities dashboard is being released. Parkinson says it's something lawmakers asked for back when the outbreak began and allows for the public to quickly see how the minority community is being affected.
"A complete snapshot and that's going to be vitally important because in the African American community for ever actually we have been dealing with healthcare disparities and subpar treatment in regard to the treatment that's given to everyone else," said TN State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, (D) Memphis.
"We do have a problem," said Dr. Onyeagocha. She says the statistics represent the many challenges that face minority populations. From systemic issues such as poverty and lack of access to quality healthcare to pre-existing conditions. Distrust of the government and medical community are also factoring in when it comes to vaccination rates of minority populations.
"I'm encouraging every African American out there who hasn't had the vaccine, you need to get that vaccine," Dr. Onyeagocha.
" All of this stuff is new and people want to see what the outcomes are going to be before they allow someone to stick a needle in their arm," said Parkinson.
Parkinson said tracking the percentage of minority vaccinations is just as important as case information because the two go hand in hand.
"I'm scheduled for it tomorrow," said Dr. Onyeagocha. She said she is ready for her vaccine. It's one way she says to help avoid becoming a statistic.
"COVID-19 is a situation no one expected it come from nowhere and has devastated our communities not just the black community its global," said Dr. Onyeagocha.