State officials say the surge of the omicron COVID-19 variant has led to the re-emergence of racial and ethnic disparities. 

Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that the rate of COVID-19 infections is once again disproportionally impacting Black and Hispanic residents.  

According to a news release, since December 26, the rate of infections was twice as high among the Black population as compared to white residents. A department analysis also shows the infection rate as much as 57 percent higher among Hispanics than non-Hispanics.

Case rates in the Black community were actually lower than whites in early December, but those numbers rose with the arrival of the omicron variant.

Along with the rise in infections, disparities are now also showing up in hospitalizations, with the highest rates currently among Blacks, followed closely by American Indians, at nearly double the rate of whites.

NCDHHS officials say that achieving equity remains a priority within the department. To that end, the state is delivering N95 masks to local health departments, community organizations, child care programs, and long-term care facilities.

And NCDHHS is pointing to programs in place connecting historically marginalized populations to vaccination and testing events, health care,  and support services for those in quarantine or isolation.

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