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The Truth About Black and Brown Communities and COVID-19
By Sentinel News Service
Published May 21, 2020

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Courtesy photo)

There are various times of year that bring our community together, whether at the annual Taste of Soul or KingdomDay parade, we all look forward to these moments of fellowship that celebrate South Los Angeles. The impact of COVID-19 has irrevocably altered our way of life. Who knows when we will be able to gather together again. This crisis continues to have a pervasive impact across South LA and the city as a whole. As coronavirus restrictions begin to lift, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as going back to normal. While some communities are witnessing a reduction in the number of reported cases and deaths, Black and Latinx communities are drastically experiencing spikes in the number of cases and deaths according to new research from the Advancement Project.

“Decades of discriminatory housing, banking and economic policies have prevented our residents from acquiring the kind of economic security needed to weather a crisis like this,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “Many of my neighbors cannot safely shelter at home. They have to go to work on the front lines and risk exposure to the virus. They ride public transit, living in overcrowded food desserts and are being forced to choose between their health or their economic security. None of us should have to make that choice”

These findings present a troubling but familiar reality. The needs of marginalized and under resourced communities are not being taken with the requisite severity. People and communities of color are being hit hard by this pandemic physically, mentally, and financially. Race Counts measures the amount of racial disparity and impact by population size of counties and cities in California. This study found that the past still  drives who can access what they need to stay safe and healthy based on race and class. Ultimately, they found that racial disparity is pervasive across California and it impacts all of us.

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“Black, Latinx, Native Hawains and Pacific Islanders, and low-income populations were the hardest hit populations for cases and deaths in Los Angeles County, said John Kim of the Advancement Project. “Ultimately, it appears that successful implementation of shelter-in-place rules in wealthier, more White communities has kept the trajectory of cases steady and even accomplished some flattening of the curve. By mid-April, the COVID-19 crisis took a different trajectory for communities of color, particularly for higher-Latinx and Black areas where their curves have reflected steeper growth in cases compared to their lower counterparts.”

The COVID-19 crisis shows that one of the deadliest underlying conditions in America is systemic racism. The Advancement Project looks extensively at the intersection of race and COVID-19 cases. Some of the key findings include:

  • There was a lower initial prevalence in communities with a higher percentage of Latinx areas (which may reflect limited access to testing and reluctance to access care due to distrust of public institutions), but after a tipping point in early April, new cases began to increase more rapidly compared to areas with lower populations of Latinx people. By May 1, higher-Latinx areas had 1.8 times as many cases as lower-Latinx areas.
  • Since the beginning, communities with a higher percentage of Black residents have experienced a steeper increase in cases compared to lower-Black areas, but by the third week of April, there has been an even steeper, widening gap between these areas.
  • Communities with a higher percentage of White residents have stayed on the same continuous incline of cases and by mid-April, have had consistently lower case numbers compared to communities with a lower percentage of White residents.

 

A long history of unequal access to health care has left our community  in a position to be disproportionately killed by COVID-19. As we begin to reopen, we need to take every necessary step to protect ourselves and our communities.

As this pandemic changes the nature of our everyday lives in unprecedented ways, we must also adapt- Advancement Project California, with the support and advice of several partners, is offering concrete recommendations to address their findings. These recommendations include:

  • Culturally appropriate public education campaigns,
  • Funding and equipment for local community clinics and other parts of the local infrastructure that have trust and relationships in the neighborhoods,
  • Supplying personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitation supplies, and food and meals, especially for seniors, in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

The only way California will overcome this crisis is by ensuring residents are protected at work, in their homes, and when they are out for essential shopping and errands. Our most impacted communities must be educated on how to be safe and provided the resources to do so. That requires policy that is informed by those impacted most by COVID-19 and allocating resources in the budget that ensure residents aren’t forced out of their homes.

Categories: COVID-19 | News | Political
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