Growing data that people of color getting coronavirus disproportionately more than others

Aug 14, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, data is accumulating on how bad the virus is hitting people of color in Buffalo, particularly immigrants.

Jericho Road Community Health Center has major operations on the city's East and West Sides, mostly among people of color and immigrants. Jericho Road also operates the Vive Shelter, long a home for refugees, particularly those trying to seek asylum in Canada. It also relies on volunteers to operate.

Vive has been hit hard by COVID-19, although that has eased because of strenuous efforts to shift those who either test positive or look ill to a "quarantine hotel," separate from the main shelter. Anna Mongo, Jericho Road chief program officer and Vive director, said volunteer activities have stopped.

"We have found that consistently within the populations that we serve our data is reflecting a higher percentage of positive COVID than what is present in the community as a whole," she said, "and until we can feel like that the situation where there is minimal risk and everybody is safe, we are not planning to facilitate some of the volunteer stuff."

Jericho Road founder and CEO Dr. Myron Glick said the numbers are major. With 8,500 of the health center's patients tested, there have been 925 diagnosed with COVID,-19 few of them white people.

"If you're tested at Jericho Road and you're a white person, you have a 3% chance of being positive," said Glick. "But if you're a Burmese refugee, any Burmese refugee tested is about a 30% chance of being positive."

Glick said 50 of those who tested positive have been hospitalized and six have died.