More testing sites to start in predominantly African-American neighborhoods

As more time passes, data continues to show the existing disparities in health and health care access across the Kentuckiana community.
Updated: Apr. 23, 2020 at 1:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds’ work hasn’t stopped in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re helping people get groceries, we’re helping to pay stipends for some of our senior citizens,” Reynolds explained to WAVE 3 News. “We’re helping to do technology training. We’re still trying to still do our home ownership class. We are still placing people in jobs. We’re trying not to place people in jobs where they won’t have the appropriate PPE.”

The pandemic has increased their workload, if anything, and opened the door further to talk about disparities across the community.

Reynolds said as prominent people in the community were diagnosed with the virus, it created an opportunity for people to put support in place.

"We also have to think about the system and the lack of investment in our country and in our community and certain parts of our community," Reynolds said. "Especially when you talk about the west end. Those things that haven't been invested in that have lead to this challenges that you see in these poorer communities. That's what we have to be willing to talk about and address."

As more time passes, data continues to show the existing disparities in health and health care access across our community.

Mayor Greg Fischer said Wednesday Louisville’s population includes about 23 percent of people who are black. From those who have died from COVID-19 so far, black Louisvillians make more than 30 percent.

“It’s an indicator of the work, so much work we have to do, not just here in my city or the state, but it’s all over the country as well,” Fischer said during Governor Beshear’s press conference.

"Just think about the jobs that we have often been offered in this society," Reynolds said. "It really should answer the question to everyone to why black people in America would be more likely to die from COVID-19."

UofL Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith said there are a lot of factors that could contribute to it.

"I think you can look at a number of societal factors as to why that might be," Dr. Smith said. "Having limited access to care at times, but also they tend to have certain types of medical conditions."

Dr. Smith said conditions like hypertension is a co-factor in having severe disease and is significant in the African American community and is often under-treated for lack of healthcare resources.

Governor Beshear announced Wednesday there will be a new drive-thru testing site in Louisville at Shawnee Park starting on Monday for two weeks. They will hand out masks and hand sanitizer, too.

Anyone who wants to get tested can do so, but everyone is required to register in advance at this link.

UofL also launched a partnership with the Park DuValle Community Health Center for more drive-thru testing.

"The governor bringing testing to Louisville is actually helpful," Dr. Smith said. "It doesn't change what we are trying to do in working with Park DuValle. I think anything that brings more testing into west Louisville and Louisville in general will be very helpful."

Reynolds said she is devastated for those who have lost someone from the virus, and celebrates with those who have recovered, no matter their race.

"We simply want to point out the inequities in our society that make it more likely that an entire group of people would die if they contracted this virus," Reynolds said.

She wants people to understand that historically under-invested communities are where disparities can do the most damage.

“These folks are not only living in food deserts, they are living in opportunity deserts,” Reynolds. “And so we have to think about how we invest and what we have created to put us all in danger.”

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