DENVER (CBS4) Mapping of COVID cases in Colorado shows a concentration of cases in many underserved neighborhoods, and in some cases ten times as many cases as in higher-income neighborhoods.
Sometimes these stark differences were only a few minutes’ drive apart.
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“These are all neighborhoods that are only separated by a street or a block or two,” said Michele Lueck, President and CEO. “Like the differences between Montbello and Park Hill. Or the differences between Central Park … and East Colfax, ”said Lueck.
The conclusions come from a report by the bipartisan Colorado Health Institute. The information was taken from the census tract data, which shows COVID rates for most of 2020.
The highest levels were found where people: “had a lower level of education and a higher concentration of non-English speakers and people of color. In these areas, various systemic factors contribute to inequalities, including overcrowded housing, inability to telework and reduced access to health care, ”the study concluded.
“We have a responsibility for everyone in our community and in our world to truly look at and address these issues, as we do on an individual provider-to-patient level as well as at a larger systemic legislative level,” said Shaunti Meyer, Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Stride Community Health, which operates clinics in underserved communities.
She believes there are many problems; Access to health care, quality food, physical activity, lack of paid leisure time.
“It’s really just an unfortunate situation that we see each other and I think COVID has highlighted many of those differences for us.”
While the pre-vaccination data is in, she suspects the same trends will continue.
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“We still see patients walking in who really don’t understand what the vaccine is about, who are afraid of it, or just have misinformation or insufficient education about it.”
For many people living in collective shelters unable to take time off, health can be bottom of the list of things they need to do to get through.
“Many of our patients really live on a survival level,” said Meyer. “They are trying to get enough to eat, they are trying to have enough money to pay their rent, or they have no home at all.”
Healthcare providers and policy makers will use the data to determine what action to take.
“Getting the disease was very, very different in really dramatic proportions between the essentially haves and the haves,” said Lueck. “The most striking and sobering thing for me is that these are the injustices that play out over and over again.”
And that’s the case with many of the health problems they look at.
“At the end of the day, the debate is always about how big the safety net should be?”
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The Colorado Health Institute report and map can be found here.