Ashley Lopez, Texas, United States discussed on Morning Edition


White area and it's a 30 minute drive away from the more rural part of the county, where more black residents live. Okay. And then actually you also covering a massive area, which is the state of Texas. Tell me about what you found in Texas. Yeah, we have the same structural problems here In Texas, For example. I live in Austin and here. Advocates have been concerned that the wealthier and whiter parts of town which are on the West side. Have more vaccine sites because they have more pharmacies and medical practices. I also looked right outside of Austin east of US, There's the small rural county called Bass Drop County, and in that county, almost all the vaccine providers are in the main city, which is also called bass drop. Basically, there's one cluster of providers there along the main highway and then hardly any other sites in the county and this effects an immigrant community that's a 30 minute drive. From the city of Bass drop people there are afraid of driving into the city for basically anything. They've had run ins with local law enforcement over small things in the past that have resulted in deportations, which was really scared the community so placement of vaccine sites really, really matters there. So Sean, Selina and Ashley were looking in the Southern part of the United States is what's going on. They're happening in the rest of the country. Unfortunately, there's no way to know for sure. The CDC is collecting data on where the vaccine doses are being distributed, but they have so far decided not to release that to the public. But what we do have an idea of is where the existing health infrastructure is think about places like clinics and hospitals and a group of researchers at the West Health Policy Center and the University of Pittsburgh. Found that in hundreds of counties across the country, black Americans were more likely than white Americans to live far away 10 miles in a rural area and one mile in an urban area from a potential vaccination center. Particularly critical question for public health, Then would be our black and Hispanic Americans not getting vaccinated because the vaccine sites are harder for them to reach. Shall Lena. What did you find when you looked at the numbers? Yes. So in the places that I looked into black people are being vaccinated less than their share of the population. Take Mississippi where, As of Wednesday only 17% of residents who got the shot where black even though they make up about 38% of the population. Now some public health officials plane to vaccine hesitancy, which is this fear of getting the vaccine that is an issue that we're seeing pop up in the South, where there's a long history of institutional racism. But there's also this issue of access. You can look at a map and see that there are far fewer sites in areas with predominantly black populations. Okay, so a cascade of problems Ashley, who is getting the vaccine in Texas? It's hard to know what's going on because data's pretty spotty in Texas. If you look at the states, demographic data about 45% of people who have been vaccinated are reported as an unknown race. It's actually the biggest category they have right now, and that's just not super helpful. And no. Well, this is the case station why the CDC put out a report this week, saying that they don't know the race of about half the people who have been vaccinated in the United States. But they did say that among those they do know black Americans are being vaccinated at a lower rate to give you an idea. Roughly one out of every 20 people who have been vaccinated has been black. If they were receiving vaccinations equally relative to their share of the population. It would be more than double that. Okay, so the C D C is aware of this. Which makes me wonder. Are there any commitments from public health officials to get vaccines into neighborhoods where people of color live? Yeah, I'm seeing a commitment from federal and local leaders on this. In Texas County Health officials have said they are committed to getting vaccines to the hardest hit communities, and the binding administration has said they want to make sure immigrants regardless of legal status, have access to the vaccine, and FEMA is expected to create pop up vaccination sites in underserved communities. So you know, what do you see? Officials in Louisiana told me that they're going to use National Guard teams to go into underserved areas to do community vaccination events. But a more common solution that I've been hearing is creating partnerships with nonprofits and health clinics that already have connections in the community. But of course, you know doing those mass vaccination events. Depends on having enough vaccine so that will be even more important in the upcoming phases. Ashley. Shall Lena and Sean. Thank you so much. You're reporting. We appreciate it. Thank you. Ashley Lopez is with member Station Kut and Austin Selina. Chet Lani is with the NPR Gulf States Newsroom and Sean McMahon is a data editor at NPR. This is NPR news. And on this Friday you are listening to KCRW. I'm Michel Wilkes, a professor of medicine here in Southern California. We've learned that staying at home really works. California's covert 19 infection rate has fallen enough that some public activities can resume but a friendly reminder to police stay vigilant when outside your home and around other people, masks, hand washing and distance still apply. When we are all taking precautions, California will get better sooner Be well and stay tuned to KCRW..

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