MAGIC VALLEY — The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention released information showing pregnant women of color nationwide infected with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit, and receive mechanical ventilation. One St. Luke’s doctor says it’s no different here in the Magic Valley.
“It’s probably very consistent with what we see nationally. Women of color in Idaho, maybe not many of the African Americans, but we probably see the Latino population twice as frequent hospitalizations,” Clarence Blea, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at St.Luke’s Hospital, said.
Pinpointing this issue’s exact cause is difficult, but Dr. Blea says many contributing factors play a big part.
“There are a lot of inequalities that the CDC and our government agencies have recognized and have attempted to address, this includes financial it includes access, it includes cultural and various facets of discrimination whether intentional or not,” Blea said.
Although there isn’t much information on the exact demographics of pregnant women infected with COVID-19 here in Idaho, Dr. Blea says he has seen first hand the disproportionate number of pregnant women of color infected with the disease.
“I would say a significant proportion of the patients that I have been exposed to in our center have been women of color,” Blea said.
When it comes to the Hispanic and Latino community, the South Central Public Health District has faced some issues when trying to encourage them to social distance because of cultural differences.
“When you are asking a community that prioritizes large family gatherings, which is not just something they enjoy doing but is something that is a part of their culture and identity, then it does become more difficult to help that person understand why it’s important to stop that practice,” Brianna Bodily, South Central Public Health District Public Information Officer, said.
As the CDC continues to find the cause of this issue, Dr. Blea says it’s essential for pregnant women of color to continue to take safety precautions.
“Take care of yourself from a nutritional standpoint. Address your prenatal visits, do what you can to have this access, do what you can to distance and protect yourselves,” Blea said.