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County, city collaborate on pandemic initiative to counter racial disparities

The city of Rochester and county of Monroe will partner with Jordan Health, Trillium Health and the University of Rochester Medical Center on a new initiative aimed at reducing racial and ethnic disparities related to COVID-19.

“We know that COVID-19 does not discriminate. Anyone can get it, regardless of age, income or background,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said at a Tuesday press conference. “But we also know some people are more vulnerable than others. This includes people of color.”

Officials said the pandemic has intensified existing racial and ethnic disparities both locally and across the country. The percentage of local COVID-19 patients being hospitalized and sent to the ICU is disproportionately black and brown, and nationwide, people of color are disproportionately dying from the disease.

In fact, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the Centers for Disease Control data suggests that the virus is having disproportionate effects, with black people accounting for 34 percent of confirmed cases with known race/ethnicity compared with 13 percent of the total population as of April 20. In the majority of states reporting data, black people accounted for a higher share of confirmed cases (in 20 of 31 states) and deaths (in 19 of 24 states) compared with their share of the total population.

In Upstate New York, the report shows, some 17 percent of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 are black, although black individuals represent 14 percent of the total upstate population.

The new local initiative consists of two new Respiratory Health Clinics — one of which will include a mobile site — within the city limits. Jordan Health launched the first clinic Tuesday at the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center on Holland Street. It will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., by appointment only. It is open to existing Jordan Health patients.

Trillium Health is opening its clinic at 259 Monroe Ave. on April 27. Initially, the clinic will be open to existing Trillium patients. The clinic will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., by appointment only. Officials are expecting to accept appointments from the general public within a short time frame. Trillium also will be adding a mobile clinic in the near future.

Personal protective equipment, testing swabs, laboratory services and logistical support will be provided by Monroe County and URMC, among others.

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