Tarrant County officials say COVID-19 is hitting minority communities hard

Hospital and health officials in Tarrant County said Tuesday there are certain people faring worse with COVID-19 than others.

Those experts said trends are not going the way health officials would like and the spread of the coronavirus continues to reveal disparities among race and income brackets.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in the county. The president and CEO of JPS, the public hospital system, told the commission black and Hispanic patients -- who are more apt to have underlying conditions-- are faring the worst.

“I’ll make my pitch I have no problems with this. Wear a mask,” JPS President/CEO Robert Earley said. “Just do it! Wear a mask in public.”

In the private hospital sector, Texas Health Resources infectious disease Dr. Nikhil Bhayani also sees a disparity among income brackets.

“For example, the patients I see here at Texas Health Alliance, a little bit more affluent area. The patients that are coming in, yes they are sick but they tend to recover very nicely,” said Bhayani said.

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The commissioners are trying to limit the disparities.

"From the beginning of our trying to manage this pandemic, data has been our weak point,” said Commissioner Roy Brooks.

Commissioners approved the use of $1 million in federal funding for a broad study to analyze the effect of the virus on different communities.

“There’s a lot of research that we need to do as we move forward, not only to react to COVID-19 but also how to react to whatever comes next and there will be something next,” said Judge Glenn Whitley.

In the meantime, the county’s public health director strongly urged people who are not wearing face coverings and social distancing in public to get on board.

“This is not a hoax. There is true science behind it all and all the indicators are pointing up at this point,” said Dr. Vinny Taneja.

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