CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — When COVID-19 first began to spread, there were outcries that not enough testing was being made available for minority communities, and in areas of high poverty.

That was despite that fact that minorities were three times more likely to contract coronavirus and die from it. Targeted testing was made available in heavily populated minority areas, and now the same request is being made for vaccines.

“African-Americans have the poorest community populations and health. And we have some of the lowest life expectancy. Many African Americans have the underlying conditions that make them very susceptible to COVID-19,” said Rev. Matthew Watts, Grace Bible Church.

Those conditions include diabetes, obesity, and heart and lung disease. All are disproportionately higher in minority groups. The Governor’s office is looking at making vaccines a priority to minorities.

“We have an African American Task Force, and we certainly are very committed to making sure that we are approaching vulnerable people and communities, and looking at the social justice issues related to vaccination,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia COVID-19 Czar.

Doctor Marsh says the vaccination effort will also target Hispanics, Native Americans, and impoverished White communities.

“For years minority group leaders have lobbied the legislature for funding and a commission to deal with poverty and health care issues. They plan to make the same request again in 2021,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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