Groups push for more COVID-19 screening in underserved neighborhoods – WTVY

7July 2020

By Ashley Bowerman|July 3, 2020 at 10:19 PM CDT – Upgraded July 3 at 10:48 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The American Diabetes Association together with over 100 other national groups, consisting of Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and AARP, sent out a letter to congressional leaders requiring them to focus their efforts on increased screening in the most susceptible communities as they continue to be hardest hit by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“When you take a look at the correlation of people who are hospitalized and dying from COVID-19, there’s a disproportionate number of individuals who are with diabetes, individuals of color, [and] lower socioeconomics,” said American Diabetes Association CEO Tracey Brown. “We have an obligation to actually do something about that and among the important things is taking the screening to the communities that need it.”

These organizations believe that barriers to access like lack of transport, insurance coverage, and access to info, makes it tough for people in underserved communities to get testing unless it is brought directly to them. They say this can be done through increased financing, community healthcare facilities, non-profit health organizations, mobile vans, and so on

. Information from the Centers for Illness Control and Avoidance, or CDC, shows that African-Americans account for one-third of infection cases across the country, in spite of making up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. More information from the CDC shows that Native Americans and Eskimos are hospitalized for COVID-19 at five times the rate of white Americans.

“There are more tests available now than there were two months back, but where the tests are being dispersed is the issue,” stated Brown. “Where you see these drive-thru clinics turning up works if you have a car and can drive there, but if you do not have transport or you take mass transit, this is where you need to begin to state ‘Where is the walk-up center?’ ‘Where is the mobile van?’ ‘Where are the recreation center?’ Can we get testing into these centers?”

Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said there have actually been more than 600 different specimen collection centers established throughout the state, and 350 more are set up to be established soon.

“What we have been doing, in particularly our more rural counties, is examining with city and county leaders where there are locations where persons might have less transport, or less gain access to and really going to those cities and counties, the smaller cities and counties and towns, and setting up a health department specimen collection center,” she said. “So, that is very crucial, that’s something that we have actually currently been doing.”

Landers stated they have likewise expanded their requirements to consist of screening particularly for individuals with diabetes.

“One of our criteria is individuals with high-risk conditions, so persons with diabetes can be checked despite their symptomatology,” Landers stated.

ADPH’s outreach up until now also involves setting up pop-up centers in some smaller cities and towns to assist with ease of access, according to Landers. For instance, in a church or high school parking lot.

Landers added that a few of the larger counties have their own access to business and scientific labs, so the health department has actually refrained from doing some screening in the “exceptionally big” counties.

Pop-up testing sites have actually helped ADPH satisfy their screening objective of about 2 percent of the state’s population monthly.

“Throughout the board in all of our counties we are satisfying our testing objective,” Landers said.

Nevertheless, Landers said more testing is not the issue.

“We have actually got a great deal of screening going on now, so screening is not truly accounting for increased numbers now,” she stated.” What is representing increased numbers is increase in neighborhood transmission. In other words, person to person spread, so we have exactly the prescription to lower community spread which is bearing in mind that individuals are more secure in your home.”

ADPH has a list of testing websites open across Alabama on their site.

Dr. Landers says if you feel that your neighborhood needs more access to screening, call your regional health department and find out what opportunities are available.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights scheduled.

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