COVID-19 impacts kids from Black, Latino communities disproportionately

Latino children in California represent 64% of cases among kids, despite making up less than 50% of that population.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Not everyone is impacted by COVID-19 the same way. Medical experts are seeing disparities among children here in Central California.

Research increasingly shows that Black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in the United States.

RELATED: Latinos make up majority of COVID-19 deaths in California, Valley counties

New data reveals these disparities also extend to children of color.

"It really is a reflection of what's going on with the adults in the community because most of the pediatric transmission occurs in their household," says Valley Children's Hospital Assistant Medical Director Shea Osburn.

Osburn shared what she's seeing locally.

"Valley Children's overall patient population is 69% Hispanic, and our proportion of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 is 85% Hispanic."

In California, Latino children represent 64% of cases among kids, despite making up less than 50% of that population.

Nationwide, they're nearly 5 times more likely to die than their white peers.

Experts say where you live and who you live with can make it challenging to avoid getting sick with the coronavirus.

"One big mechanism explaining the relationship between the higher rates of COVID-19 among populations of color is looking at the work opportunities and the vulnerabilities because of that job," says UC Merced Professor Whitney Pirtle.

Many people of color have jobs that can't be done remotely and may not have access to health care or other important resources.

"People of color and people of low socioeconomic status live in much more crowded conditions because frequently they live in multiple multi-generational families," says Lori Weichenthal, a doctor at UCSF Fresno.

Pediatricians are now looking at what the long-term effects of COVID may be.

"The biggest concern that I've been monitoring for all my patients who have tested COVID positive is cardiac," says American Academy of Pediatrics Orange County President Dr. Katherine Williamson.

"We are sending our patients to cardiologists to get a full cardiac workup, making sure that there's nothing going on that would be myocarditis, which is inflammation in the muscle or in the blood vessels that could cause sudden cardiac death or any long term issues like that.

Public health experts say focusing on these disparities is crucial for helping communities respond to the virus effectively.

"This crisis of a pandemic really should allow us to look at these issues and really start looking for long-term solutions to the issue of health disparity in our county certainly but also in our state and our country," says Weichenthal.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.