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Fighting for Equal Treatment: Inequality in health care

People of color have higher rates of every preexisting condition that worsen COVID-19 infections. The reasons include a system of inequality, bias and poor access.

WASHINGTON — Thousands filled the nation's capital to protest injustice in America on Friday. Everyone had a different reason to be at the Commitment March. Most looked for change to inequality in America, so WUSA9 researched health care disparity in the country.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, but statistics show it's disproportionately harming communities of color. According to the CDC African Americans are 4.7 times as likely to be hospitalized compared to their white neighbors.

Latinos are 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized. 

Experts say it's not because of genetics, the evidence shows a big part of the disparity comes down to the quality and access to care.

Credit: CDC

"It's not that they're getting infected, more often it's that when they do get infected their underlying medical conditions, the diabetes, the high blood pressure, the obesity, asthma. Those are the kind of things that wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate," Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a coronavirus press briefing on April 8th. 

If you take a closer look at preexisting conditions you can see a clear correlation with race. The CDC says asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and kidney disease increase your risk of severe health side effects if infected with COVID-19. If you have 2 of those your chance of needing hospital care increases by 4 and a half times. If you have 3 or more, your chances increase fivefold. 

African Americans have higher rates of every single one of those conditions, per HHS. 

WUSA9 wanted to add some context and find out why there is so much inequality when it comes to health care. We spoke with Dr. Jeffery Dormu of Minimally Invasive Vascular Center and Shonta Chambers of the Patient Advocate Foundation

Find our full discussion in the video below

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