CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday announced he’s created a new team to develop a strategy for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on certain demographics.
Women and minorities appear to make up a disproportionate share of the state’s cases, according to data from the state’s health and human services department.
The five-person team is made up of “thought leaders” familiar with issues related to racial or ethnic disparities and health equality, including Dottie Morris, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion at Keene State College. The team is expected to present its recommendations within 30 days, according to a news release issued by the governor’s office Thursday.
Morris is joined by Trinidad Tellez, who chairs the team and serves as director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Health Equity; Bobbie Bagley, director of Nashua’s Division of Public Health and Community Services; Kirsten Durzy, equity council lead, public health evaluation and narrative/storytelling expert for DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services; and Rogers Johnson, president of the Seacoast National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
Morris is also a member of this advisory council. She’s one of two local members, the other being Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera.
“Ensuring equity in our response to COVID-19 is a priority for the state,” Sununu said in a prepared statement. “I would like to thank the members of the COVID-19 Equity Response Team for taking on this important charge and I look forward to their recommendations.”
The available national data indicate that people of color are contracting COVID-19, and dying from it, at higher rates. To an extent, this appears to hold true in New Hampshire, though the state does not have race/ethnicity data for all cases or deaths.
Latino people make up 3.9 percent of New Hampshire’s population, but 8.6 percent of known COVID-19 cases for which race/ethnicity information was available, according to the state health department.
Black residents accounted for 5.6 percent of cases, but only 1.4 percent of the statewide population.
People whose race was listed in the state data as “other” — which includes Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who identify as two or more races — represent less than 2 percent of the state’s population but accounted for more than 9 percent of both deaths and cases, according to the state data.
The state’s data show that substantially more women than men have tested positive for COVID-19, but men have more serious outcomes from the disease.
Mia Summerson can be reached at 603-352-1234, ext. 1435, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson
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