MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES COVID-19 HEALTH INEQUITIES TASK FORCE

BOSTON – Thursday, April 9, 2020 – As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a new COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force to provide guidance to the City of Boston on addressing current inequities in data analysis, testing sites and health care services for Blacks, Latinos, Asians and immigrants. 

“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,” Mayor Walsh said. “Data is critical to knowing how deep these inequities run and to help the public better understand the virus and its risks. By forming the COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, we can focus specifically on increasing access to this important data and tackling the inequities that we know exist in our communities. I look forward to working with the members of the Task Force and the community while we collectively address this important issue and strive to achieve health equity among all our communities.”

The Task Force will review existing racial and ethnic data among Boston residents, as well as review data collection processes, data analysis and best practices related to the COVID-19 response for the Black, Latino, Asian, and immigrant populations. This guidance will support a strategy for equity and accessibility to services for populations that are historically underserved or underrepresented, including recommendations for additional resources and considerations, that can be implemented by the City of Boston and community and healthcare stakeholders that are serving as partners in this response. 

Members that have been named on the COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force include:

  • 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 
  • Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement

Although complete data on race and ethnicity among COVID-19 positive cases in Boston residents has not been reported to the City of Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is actively working to collect available data for public release. The below table is current as of April 8, 2020 and is subject to change. Due to the collection and review process that is required to produce this data, updated data specific to race and ethnicity will be released from the City of Boston every three days. 

Boston Resident COVID-19 Cases as of April 8, 2020
Race/EthnicityKnown Cases% of Known Cases
Asian or Pacific Islander754.8%
Black or African-American63140.3%
Hispanic or Latino 22314.2%
Other19312.3%
White44528.4%
Total Race/Ethnicity Known Cases in Boston residents1,567100% of known race/ethnicity
Total Cases in Boston residents2,513*62.4% of total cases in Boston residents have race/ethnicity data. 37.6% (946) of total cases are classified as “missing” for race/ethnicity data.

*This case number reflects data from April 8, 2020 and has since changed.

NOTE: Information on race and ethnicity data is collected and reported by multiple entities and may or may not reflect self-reporting by the individual case. A classification of “missing” indicates that no reporter knew the race and ethnicity of the individual, the individual refused to provide the information, or that the originating reporting system does not capture the information. “Other” indicates multiple races or another race that is not listed above.

The City of Boston is also actively working with hospital partners to receive any data that may be available to expand research and analysis on inequities in the COVID-19 response. According to Boston Medical Center (BMC), New England’s largest safety net hospital that serves patients are from under-served populations and patients do not speak English as a primary language, data shows that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color. 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. 

At Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), 40% of COVID-19 positive patients speak Spanish as their native language, a number that is significantly higher than the usual patient census at MGH. The City of Boston, working through the Task Force, will continue to actively collect data from hospital and other partners. 

Race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 deaths is not complete for residents of Boston at this time. Currently, the data includes small numbers for several population groups, which could lead to identification of individuals in violation of state and federal privacy laws.

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