UMES hosts discussion on COVID-19 testing, vaccines disparities
MARYLAND – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore focused on disparities when it comes to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in marginalized communities.
Thursday’s discussion centered around why people of color are experiencing the inequities that they are amid the pandemic, and how we can use existing data to answer those questions. “I believe that the agenda for equity is one that we all can embrace. The strategies will be different, but the outcome should give us a good indication that we are now under a greater gradient for equity in the state of Maryland,” said Director of the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Dr. Noel Brathwaite.
Experts in the discussion said that part of using that data is taking a close look at what the numbers are actually saying. Maryland Department of Public Health Epidemiologist Dr. David Mann says that includes cutting through the clutter of data we’re all seeing every day. “Disparity metrics can actually get better even when the minority rate is getting worse if the white rate is also getting worse. This rise in the white rate is made the racial metrics of the disparity actually get smaller to hide the fact that the minority rate has actually gotten much worse at this time,” said Dr. Mann.
Dr. Mann says we can also help close the disparity divide by looking at testing and vaccination data that we don’t have yet. He says by doing that, experts can figure out which gaps need to be filled and which populations need to be reached. “To some extent the things we see aren’t the whole story. So testing is going up and positive cases are going up. How much of that is because we’re doing more testing? How much of that is because of actually more cases in the community? That’s one of the challenges we have,” said Dr. Mann.