Access to health care during COVID-19: BIPOC and LGBTQ affected the worst in King County

Blog post by Sahla Suman
August 3, 2021

Public Health - Seattle & King County   (Seattle)

The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically impacting people's lives. Along with millions of cases and over half a million deaths, it has caused drastic changes to people’s social lives, financial stability, and overall health. But, for some people, the pandemic's toll is heavier than others, especially communities that are suffering from structural racism and discrimination. Nationally, the death rate due to COVID-19 is two times greater among Blacks than whites. The LGBTQ community is experiencing a higher rate of job loss and challenges to acquire health care services compared to others during the pandemic. During the pandemic, COVID-19 related needs and demands for health care services increased; however, there was a decline in the utilization of non-COVID-related medical care. There are myriads of reasons behind this, including unequal access to health care. Even before the beginning of the pandemic, inequities in health care access based on race/ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation were a major public health concern. Often, communities marginalized by both racial/ethnic and sexual or gender identities experienced even worse inequities. The Washington State Department of Health conducted the Community Oriented Recovery Needs Assessment (CORONA) survey to assess the pandemic’s social, economic, and overall health impacts on people’s lives. The new data from this survey throws some light on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on inequities in access to health care issues in King County.