State Watch

Cuomo says NY opening more testing sites in black, Latino communities

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) says the state has set up additional testing sites in African American and Latino communities to address concerns that minority groups are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are going to do more testing in African American, Latino communities. We opened more sites last — yesterday,” Cuomo told reporters at a press briefing on Friday.

Data indicates black and Latino people in New York City have seen twice the amount of fatalities from the virus as whites, according to numbers recently released by the city. 

Cuomo said he’s not surprised by the data, saying he believes there is “systemic structural inequality in our health care system,” but vowed to address the problem.

“I don’t think anyone is surprised that we have a higher incidence among the African American [and] Latino community. Luckily, the disparity in this state is not nearly as bad as we see in other places in the country,” he said. “But there’s no doubt there’s systemic racism in our society still, and there’s systemic structural inequality in our health care system.”

The New York Democrat said the state is working with top health care experts to research why the discrepancy is so high. He noted many individuals in the black and Latino communities are essential workers who face a higher risk of being exposed to the virus. 

“We want to find out more information than we’ve ever found out before. We have the State University of New York, Albany that’s going to be working with the Department of Health in Northwell, to find out why,” he continued.

Cuomo said he expected them to note that in many cases people in those communities have other chronic diseases and less access to health care, making them susceptible.

“I also believe it’s partially because you have more African Americans and Latinos in the public sector workforce; more of them were essential workers,” he continued. “They had to go to work. They didn’t have the luxury of staying home. Frankly, they didn’t have the luxury of going to this second-half home. They didn’t have the luxury of going to stay with their sister in some other place.”

“They had to go drive the bus and they had to drive the train and they had to go to the hospital because of the health care workers. So let’s understand it, let’s learn about it, but then let’s fix it. Let’s fix it. And let’s use this as a moment to understand the injustice, and remedy it,” Cuomo added.

The New York Times reports that Latinos make up 34 percent of the coronavirus fatalities and 29 percent of the city’s population while African Americans make up 28 percent of the fatalities and 22 percent of the city’s population. 

During an appearance on CBS on Tuesday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said black Americans are more likely to have preexisting conditions and often less access to health care. 

“I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America,” he said. “And I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID, which is why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”

Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus New York racial disparity
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