COVID-19 makes racial health disparities more pronounced in Chattanooga, U.S.

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / We Over Me co-founder Lakweshia Ewing, left, helps unload and stack produce boxes at We Over Me's "Pop-Up Produce Stand" at East Ridge High School on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in East Ridge, Tenn. We Over Me provided fresh produce boxes free of charge.

The latest data about a new disease is underlining the decades-old saying.

"When white people catch a cold, Black people catch the flu," said LaDarius Price, community outreach specialist at Cempa Community Care. "That's the absolute reality for a lot of us."

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Price spent years working to address health inequalities in the community, such as access to fresh food and mental health care. His job, as he described it, was to help people who look like him have the same opportunities for healthy life as millions of other Americans.

Several Chattanooga ZIP codes, representing the most diverse parts of the city, rank among the lowest in the state for health outcomes. According to a 2019 report, Black residents of the county are more likely than whites to die or get sick from things like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.