MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Recent data from the Economic Poverty Institute shows that while black people make up about 13% of the population, they make up about 23% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide.
Dr. Albert Mosley is Methodist’s Chief Mission Integration Officer. He’s seen how poverty in Memphis directly affects health care in its majority black population.
“Poverty is so linked to the underlying issues that we’re seeing now,” he said.
Mosley said roughly 27% of the adult population in Memphis lives at or below the federal poverty level, and nearly half of the children in Memphis live at or below the poverty level.
The Economic Poverty Institute also found that not only do white workers earn more than black workers, but in the U.S., black workers are 60% more likely to be uninsured compared to white workers.
"A lot of people who are living in poverty are either unemployed or underemployed, and in instances like that don't have the necessary coverage that they need," Mosley explained.
Food deserts can also increase the chances of diabetes and hypertension -- health problems that black people are at a higher risk of having. They are also underlying conditions for COVID-19.
Those in poverty are also more likely to have less access to transportation, meaning many may not even make it to a doctor's appointment.
Mosley said that working to address these problems starts with recognizing gaps in wages based on race, and in turn the gaps in health care that the black community faces.
“We’ve got to keep talking about this stuff," said Mosley. “That’s why I’m really glad that now the nation’s attention is focused on some of these underlying systemic issues. And hopefully, that will bring about some of the change that’s desperately needed.”