New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: New Jersey Rules on Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) Hurting Blacks and Minorities

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A USA TODAY report headlined “Black People are Overwhelmingly Dying from Corona Virus in Cities Across the United States” should prompt the Murphy Administration to rethink its policy on the ability of patients to access hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for corona virus treatment therapy, Senator Joe Pennacchio said today.

New Jersey’s draconian policy making it difficult for patients to acquire HCQ from doctors or hospitals is putting the state’s minority population at greater risk, Senator Pennacchio said. (©iStock)

The exact reason for the higher mortality numbers among our black population is still being studied.  Certain factors such as black population clusters in big cities where disease is more easily spread and a greater level of underlying conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes among African Americans may also be contributing to the higher than usual numbers.

Senator Pennacchio also believes New Jersey’s draconian policy making it difficult for patients to acquire HCQ from doctors or hospitals, is contributing to those unacceptable numbers.

Studies have found medical segregation and disparities among urban African American communities and that minorities often rely on hospital-based care as their primary care.

Under New Jersey’s current system of assessing HCQ for the COVID-19 infection, a patient can only receive the antiviral medication if they are admitted and being treated in the hospital or have a positive test result.  Waiting to be tested and getting the results can take many days. By that time the virus has grown and expanded in the patient’s system.

“It makes no sense,” Senator Pennacchio said. “These patients should be treated sooner, rather than later.”

Senator Pennacchio noted that minority patients who rely on hospitals for primary care are unable to access medical care as emergency rooms are inundated with coronavirus cases.

“Unfortunately, hospitals are overwhelmed. Many are shying away from hospitals and visitors are turned away for fear of being infected.  This leaves a large segment of patients at risk of not being treated at all or having to wait until the virus consumes them to the point where they require hospitalization,” said Senator Pennacchio.

“New Jersey policy is putting African American and minority patients, who are at risk to begin with because of underlying pre-existing conditions, at even greater risk because their pathways to treatment are being blocked.  The state must remove the shackles from doctors and hospitals so that they can treat patients with the tools they have,” concluded the Senator.

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