Obstacles in rural and low-income communities pose greater risks of coronavirus for residents

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A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Public health experts are concerned about how the coronavirus can disproportionately effect low-income and minority groups.

The virus is having an impact on all aspects of life, those communities the impact is even greater. There have been more than 2000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, with at least 1 case in each county.

Much of our state is rural and a high percentage of residents live in poverty.

Multiple counties in South Carolina lack a hospital, urgent care center or primary physician. This healthcare gaps are creating concerns of underreporting cases and access to treatment.

These areas also have higher numbers of uninsured residents who may choose to not seek treatment because of costs. Many residents in these counties may also have greater risks of exposure because of the types of available jobs.

“In the states that report race, there have been more deaths among African Americans than among whites. Why? Because they are electively on those front line occupations, if you’re working at the checkout at Walmart or Publix a lot of people are walking by you that day,” explained Dr. Jan Probst, the former director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center.

Rural counties have higher numbers of residents with ​preexisting conditions like diabetes and heart disease, making someone more susceptible to the worse the coronavirus can bring.​

Dr. Probst continued, “Rural areas have a high proportion of residents that lack health insurance so they can’t address the chronic conditions. Rural areas have a higher presence of poverty which determines if you can fill your medicine if prescribed to it.” ​

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control is identifying positive coronavirus cases in the state by zip code; however, there is no classification yet based on race.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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