The National Black Leadership Commission on Health (NBLCH), a nonprofit organization that promotes health and prevention of diseases within the Black community, together with Amida Care, New York’s largest Medicaid Special Needs Health Plan are calling for urgent attention to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on the Black community.

Across the nation, early data is showing that African Americans are disproportionately contracting and dying from the coronavirus. In New York State, Black people account for 18% of deaths but are 9% of the population.

Communities of color experience serious structural barriers to accessing quality, affordable health care, including discrimination and higher rates of poverty. This contributes to distrust in the system, which may lead many in the Black community to avoid seeking health care altogether. As a result, chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are more widespread—conditions that place people at higher risk for COVID-19.

Officials from the organizations say greater transparency is needed around racial disparities in medical staff in addition to the lack of critical supplies and equipment in hospitals primarily serving African Americans.