Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, Black community leaders have raised concerns about disparities in COVID-19 testing rates among Black and brown West Virginians. They’ve said testing has been inaccessible, with clinics out of reach or taking place during the work day when people can’t get time off. And even when testing is available, it can be hard to motivate people to show up.
Now, there’s academic research that backs their anecdotal evidence up.
In a study published last month in an epidemiology journal, West Virginia University researcher Brian Hendricks examined coronavirus testing across West Virginia and found that communities with higher Black populations had a testing rate six times lower than the state average during the first six months of the pandemic. As a result, it’s likely the state didn’t have good data on how prevalent the coronavirus was in these communities — identified by census tracts in Fairmont, Wheeling, Bluefield, Beckley, Huntington, Dunbar and Charleston.
In a story by Mountain State Spotlight, both he and Linda Alexander, who has been researching racial health disparities for the last 30 years, share valuable insights, including the importance of community.