ST. LOUIS ( -- National leaders announced the African American community is more likely to contract the COVID-19 and die and local leaders and doctors agree.

St. Louis City health officials said all of the COVID-19 patients who have died in the city are African American. 

Doctor Laurie Punch works in the intensive care unit at Christian Hospital and is seeing the grasp COVID-19 is having on African Americans.

“There’s young and old, there’s healthy and not healthy, it really isn’t discriminating, what’s discriminating is how they do after the fact,” she said.

Punch says preliminary statistics conducted by Barnes Jewish Center show in St. Louis, African Americans are two and half times more likely to get the virus, and four times as likely to end up on a ventilator.

[RELATED: More than 50% of COVID-19 patients in St. Louis County are black, DPH says]

She says the problem is twofold. First; pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension exist in many of the positive African American patients.

“Once it gets into bodies that don’t enjoy baseline general good health the virus literally catches people, literally almost on fire,” she said.

Second; the disparity of health and economic resource available to African Americans.

[RELATED: News 4 is tracking cases on both sides of the river by jurisdiction]

“You have a segregated population of black folks who also have a concentration of poverty and structural inequities that don’t create access to food and housing safety and education they way that it does for the rest of the region,” Punch said. 

Organizers with the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis are spreading the word about the Home Safe 1st app. The app provides coronavirus fighting resources to underserved communities of color.

[RELATED: Here are the COVID-19 testing sites in St. Louis region, Metro East]

Community health organizations like Care STL expanded COVID-19 testing sites in north St. Louis City. 

Wednesday, they opened a site on 2425 N. Whittier Street and leaders say the site was needed to reach people in the Ville neighborhood who don’t have access to transportation.

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