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New report shows racial disparities in Pinellas, Hillsborough Covid-19 cases

Margie Manning

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Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

The Florida Department of Health is now reporting the race and ethnicity of Covid-19 coronavirus victims in each of the state’s counties.

While the health department has been reporting race and ethnicity on a statewide basis, the additional county-specific data was added to the state’s dashboard late Wednesday.

The data is key because people of color are at a higher risk for health and economic challenges from Covid-19, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In Pinellas County, where the Census Bureau says 82.6 percent of the population is white and 11.1 percent is black or African American, the newly released data shows the black population has disproportionately more confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more hospitalizations, but fewer deaths. About 10 percent of Pinellas County’s population is Hispanic or Latino, according to the Census Bureau.

Here’s the complete breakdown for Pinellas County as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Hospitalizations include anyone who was hospitalized at some point during their illness. It does not reflect the number of people currently hospitalized, the health department said. Other race includes any person with a race of American Indian/Alaskan native, Asian, native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or other.

The number of confirmed cases might not tell a complete story because testing for Covid-19 has been limited, according to Florida Sen. Darryl Rouson. Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has called on Florida health officials to provide increased access to Covid-19 tests in Midtown St. Petersburg and in East Tampa. Both areas are home to a significant number of African Americans and other minorities.

Disparities also showed up in Hillsborough County, where the population is 74.3 percent white and 17.8 percent black, the Census Bureau said. About 29.2 percent of Hillsborough’s population is Hispanic or Latino.

Statewide, 48 percent of the 21,856 Florida residents confirmed to have Covid-19 are white, 15 percent are black and 36 percent are “other” or unknown race.  The Census Bureau says 77.3 percent of Florida’s population is white and 16.9 percent is black or African American.

Of the 614 Florida residents who have died, 67 percent are white, 19 percent are black, and 13 percent are “other” or unknown race.

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    Ralph Warmack

    April 17, 2020at10:23 am

    Disproportionate? The data show cases and hospitalizations are clearly proportional to demographics. You fail to recognize or report that comorbidity is a significant contributing factor to deaths.

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