Why is coronavirus killing more Black people than White people in Bexar County?

Metro Health: Factors have to do with ‘social determinants of health’

Metro Health: Factors have to do with ‘social determinants of health’

SAN ANTONIO – In San Antonio and throughout the U.S., reports show that Black people are dying at much higher rates than White people from the coronavirus, even though health officials say ethnicity alone does not play a role in how the virus affects the human body.

Local officials on Friday reported that among COVID-19 cases in Bexar County, 194 cases, or just under 10%, were Black or African American, and 482 cases, or just under 25%, were White or Caucasian.

However, Blacks accounted for 24% of COVID-19 related deaths, while Whites accounted for 21%.

“Black and Brown people and especially Black people are disproportionately affected. And it goes back to those social determinants of health,” said Dr. Junda Woo, Medical Director for San Antonio Metro Health.

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Woo said there are non-physiological factors contributing to mortality rates.

“Sometimes people are living in more dense areas with multi-generational families,” Woo said. She said that crowded living environments, like jails and prisons, can make it harder to social distance and avoid the virus.

“That’s (mass incarceration) disproportionately impacting our Black and Brown communities. So we know that we’ve had these outbreaks at the jail,” Woo said.

Woo said many working minorities are front line and essential workers, which creates greater opportunities to be exposed to the coronavirus. On the other hand, she said there are many others who don’t have access to health care.

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“I mean, there is a transportation issue. But also there’s, you know, do they realize they need care? Do I have health insurance?” Woo said.

Woo said for some people, it could boil down to minorities not being able to find a provider they feel comfortable with.

“I know that African-American male physicians, that number has only decreased over time instead of increased, like you would have expected,” Woo said.

Woo said no matter your ethnicity, social distancing, wearing masks and not touching your face with unclean hands are still the best lines of defense against contracting the virus. If you do get sick, your chances of recovering are greater if you seek medical help quickly.