Boston today released preliminary Covid-19 data that show some 40% of the patients are black, even though blacks make up only 23% of the city population.
And while citywide figures show the percentage of Latino patients is lower than the Latino proportion of the overall city population, Massachusetts General Hospital reports that 40% of its Covid-19 patients speak Spanish as their native language - significantly higher than the hospital's usual patient census. Mass .General is the closest hospital to East Boston, which has a large Spanish-speaking population - and which the Boston Public Health Commission said last week had a higher rate of cases than the citywide average.
The caveat with the data is that roughly 38% of the city's 2,812 confirmed Covid-19 cases are currently marked as unknown for racial or ethnic background. But the numbers, when combined with higher-than-average numbers in East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park, are significant enough that Mayor Walsh today announced a COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force to figure out what to do about them.
In a statement, Walsh said:
We know that there are significant inequities that put our communities of color and immigrant population at higher risk for contracting coronavirus, developing severe illness, and impeding them from accessing care.
The city also cited data from Boston Medical Center:
Of patients where race is reported, 80% of COVID-19 positive patients are either black or Hispanic/Latino, compared to 58% historically. Additionally, 61% of COVID-19 positive patients are from Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park and Mattapan, compared to 44% historically. Many of BMC's COVID-19 positive patients have presented with higher rates of underlying conditions compared to historical data, including 34% with diabetes, 49% with hypertension and 52% with a Body Mass Index above 30.
The members of the new task force are:
Dr. Thea James, Boston Medical Center; Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, IBA; Manny Lopes, East Boston Health Center; Guale Valdez, Mattapan Community Health Center; Carol Rose, ACLU; Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, Sociedad Latina; Frederica Williams, Whittier Street Health Center; Michael Curry, Mass League of Community Health Centers; Dr. Joseph Betancourt, MGH; Karen Chen, CPA; Tanisha Sullivan, NAACP; Michele Courton Brown, Quality Interactions; Rev. Ray Hammond, Bethel AME Church; Rev. Gloria White Hammond, Bethel AME Church; Paul Watanabe, UMass Boston; Dr. Lorna Rivera, UMass Boston; Suzanne Lee, former principal, Josiah Quincy School; Eva Millona, MIRA Coalition; Marie St. Fleur, St. Fleur Communications, former State Representative; Rev. Sam Acevedo, COPHANI; Petrina Cherry, Boston Medical Center; Linda Dorcena Forry, Suffolk Construction; Dr. Jean Alves, Bowdoin Street Health Center; and Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement.
Boston at a glance: 2020 - BPDA report that has racial/ethnic breakdown of Boston population.