COLUMBUS, Ohio — “COVID-19 didn't create the disparities, but it did shine a glaring light on them,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. 

Ginther, along with City Council President Shannon Hardin and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts, gathered Monday to address the city's racial disparity and public health concerns that have come to the forefront because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Minorities are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, obesity. This is without a doubt, the most challenging time most of us have ever faced, but together, we can tackle the crisis and the disparities in our community,” says Ginther. 

  • Columbus leaders gathered Monday to discuss racial disparities in public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Data reveals African Americans have been infected and are dying at a higher rate when compared to other races 
  • In Columbus, African Americans account for 38 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19, while they make up only 28 percent of the population

Newly-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 30 percent of COVID-19 cases are among those who identified as African American.

And in the capital city, African Americans account for 38 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19, while they make up only 28 percent of the population.

“Over the last several weeks we've been talking to pastors and talking to neighbors that are concerned about their older church lady with asthma or their uncle who has diabetes. And we know this is just not a Columbus phenomenon, but its also a phenomenon that's happening all across the country,” said Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin. 

Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus’ Public Health Commissioner, says besides a 13 percent uninsured rate among African Americans, other barriers remain from improving their chronic conditions or preventing them in the first place. 

“These include a lack of healthy foods, limited transportation, high-crime neighborhoods, lack of sidewalks, lighting and green spaces in neighborhoods for safe physical activity,” says Dr. Roberts. 

And moving forward, Dr. Roberts says her hope is the newly-opened Center for Public Heath Innovation will help address some of the issues and improve the quality of life for the city's African American community, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when all of our lives return to normal.

“We will also strive to increase access to health care, improve educational opportunities, encourage job training and promote safe and affordable housing, also known as the social determinants of health. When we address these things, we will improve the health outcomes not only of African Americans, but of our entire community,” said Dr. Roberts.