Indy, Marion County to Increase Testing for Minorities
The city of Indianapolis and Marion County have announced the launching of a new COVID-19 testing campaign. Officials say the goal is to reach minority communities that they say have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“We recently were able to look at our date to confirm that our African American residents are three times more likely than white residents to get diagnosed with a confirmed case (of COVID-19), even though we only make up 30% of the population,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director and chief medical officer for the Marion County Public Health Department.
Caine said the Latino population in Marion County makes up 11% and white residents make up 56% of the population. She said African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with the disease.
Caine said Marion County is partnering with the religious community to help create more opportunities for additional testing for those minority populations, putting special emphasis on the elderly who may be immunocompromised.
The first testing site will be at Eastern Star Church, located at 5750 E. 30th Street in Indianapolis.
“We’re very excited that this community is not being overlooked. When you look at the national narrative that people who are black and brown are being overlooked,” said Pastor Jeffrey Johnson Sr., Eastern Star Church. “So many of those people in that community are members of our church, but even more than that, our church is a member of that community.”
Caine said that area of the county, with the zip code 46218, is the ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19 cases in Marion County. It has a primarily African American population, according to the county health department.
“We’re seeing this national trend of the different racial and ethnic populations being more vulnerable to the pandemic,” said Caine.
The group said it intends to establish three new COVID-19 testing sites in the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods within the month.
Caine credited collaboration with IU Health Pathology Laboratory to gain access to the additional tests. The county health department hopes to eventually reach up to 3,000 tests per week.
“Increased testing is not only going to help us avoid one of the worst health crises we’ve ever faced, but it will also allow us greater security as we begin thinking about returning to daily life amidst COVID-19,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Caine also invited anyone whose work is considered essential and works closely with customers, like grocery stores and delivery personnel.
City-County Council President Vop Osili says health care disparity needs to be addressed and the COVID-19 testing is key step.