WASHINGTON - The Washington State Department of Health created a new tool, an interactive map, showing a breakdown of different health issues like COVID-19 and pollution. Lower income areas and people of color communities were rated at higher risks for these health hazards.
"Many health disparities are not related to your genes or what happens in a doctor's office but are related to where you live. Being able to access healthcare or being able to access nutritious foods, those are the things that are going to put you at higher risk." says Benton Franklin Health Officer, Dr. Amy Person.
For example, in areas with more Latinos, such as Pasco with 84%, one a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), Pasco is at a 10.
Overall, both Kennewick, Pasco, and parts of Yakima were at the highest risks for COVID-19 compared to Richland which was at a 5.
Additionally, other health hazards like lead exposure and pollution are at a higher risk in lower-income communities. Pasco and Yakima were at the highest with a number 10 rating, Kennewick varying between 10-8, and Richland varying between 7-8.
"Generally, communities of color and lower income communities often work where industrial things may be located so they're exposed to those toxins. If you live in an area that's higher income, their zoning may likely not support those types of things." says Dr. Person.
With this data from the Washington State Health Department, BFHD also hopes to communicate these types of statistics.
"One of our roles is to ensure that there is quality data to the community to demonstrate where disparities are occurring and delve deeper to see where issues are arising in our role in working with community and healthcare partners. We're trying to make sure these people affected get a seat at the table." says Person.