Coro­n­avirus out­break spot­lights risks un­treated asthma poses to mi­nori­ties


We are a small col­lec­tive of stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County seek­ing to raise aware­ness around asthma health dis­par­i­ties in our home city, es­pe­cially in light of the COVID-19 out­break. Bal­ti­more is dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by asthma with preva­lences sur­pass­ing 20% among chil­dren un­der the age of 18 and 12.4% among adults. For per­spec­tive, the na­tional av­er­ages are 8.4% and 7.7% re­spec­tively.

Crit­i­cally how­ever, asthma in­ci­dences are far greater in com­mu­ni­ties of color, the bur­dens of which am­plify co­mor­bidi­ties al­ready im­ped­ing ed­u­ca­tion and qual­ity of life. Sev­eral pro­grams were re­cently de­vel­oped to ad­dress these health in­equities, one in­ter­ven­tion be­ing the Com­mu­nity Asthma Pro­gram (CAP) es­tab­lished in 2009. Cur­rent CAP Pro­gram Di­rec­tor Mar­gret Sch­nitzer de­ploys an army of com­mu­nity health work­ers through­out Bal­ti­more wherein three home vis­its are made to about 200 houses an­nu­ally, pro­vid­ing pa­tients with med­i­ca­tion guid­ance, ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als for asthma preven­tion and non-toxic clean­ing sup­plies. Eighty-nine per­cent of chil­dren re­port de­creases in se­vere asthma symp­toms fol­low­ing in­ter­ven­tion.

With ris­ing in­ci­dences of COVID-19, an in­fec­tion that rav­ages the body’s re­s­pi­ra­tory sys­tem, Bal­ti­more’s com­mu­ni­ties of color re­main es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble (“Here are the known cases of coro­n­avirus in Mary­land,” March 25). Now, more than ever, we need up­stream, com­mu­nity-driven ad­vo­cacy to pro­tect those who need help most.

Charles Bro­dine, Zara Dunef­sky, An­drew Thayyil and Tru Vu, Ca­tonsville

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