Dr. Derek Robinson, chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, joined a panel of experts on an NBC 5 Chicago webcast to answer questions about the coronavirus pandemic.
Robinson highlighted that Black and Latino Illinoisans continue to fall ill and die from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites.
He attributed these disparities to an array of factors, including occupational exposure and a high prevalence of underlying medical issues. The pandemic underscores the need to address social determinants of health that are actively driving these disparities, Robinson said.
Dr. Allison Foster, a pediatrician at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, stressed that it is essential for kids to stay up to date on vaccinations amid the pandemic. She noted many immunizations protect kids against illnesses that may be more harmful to them than COVID-19.
Robinson, too, urged Illinoisans to talk to their doctors about keeping up on preventive screenings and encouraged them to go to the hospital if they have a serious medical need. “We’ve all got to do our part and not let the preventive screenings slip,” he said. “You don’t have to choose between a heart attack or stroke and COVID-19.”
Related: Read more about how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago’s Black and Latino communities. And hear from BCBSIL employee Anthony Frieson, who lost two sisters to COVID-19 and has become an advocate for face coverings and other steps to slow the spread of the virus.