COVID-19 and the city (part 2)

This piece is a continuation of my previous blog

Another reason for the increased amount of cases among Blacks and Hispanics is housing. The population density in minority-majority areas is high, and thus it is challenging for people living there to maintain social distance. Moroko’s (2020) research showed that Chicago had 2.8 people per household in hot spots (clusters of zip codes with a higher number of cases) and 2.0 in cold spots (clusters of zip codes with a lower number of cases).

A major reason for the increased COVID-19 related deaths among the Latin and Black population is hypertension and diabetes. According to a Northwestern Medicine study, African Americans have a risk of diabetes twice higher than the Whites, disease directly linked to obesity. The number of people with diabetes among Black youth is growing every year. This is due to the lack of access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity, and the lack of financial ability to provide better living conditions. Figure 3 shows the numbers and rates of Diabetics in 2018 in Chicago by race.

Figure 1. A table of Numbers and Rates of Diabetics in 2018 in Chicago by Race (source: https://www.chicagohealthatlas.org/indicators/diabetes)

Measures taken to improve the situation

In April, Mayor Lightfoot joined community organizations to form the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team (RERRT), which would focus on African American and Latin American neighbourhoods. This organization promptly delivered personal protective equipment to the most affected areas of the city. Families received thousands of door hangers and postcards about COVID-19. In predominantly Hispanic neighbourhoods, RERRT provided information on COVID-19 in two languages.

These measures made it possible to somewhat improve the situation in the majority-minority areas. But still, the level of spread of the disease there remains high.

On December 15, the vaccination program was launched. The latest data from an official website of the City of Chicago showed that the progression of the vaccinations were better among White population (52.9%), while vaccinations of Chicago’s BAME population are progressing at a slower pace: Blacks 15.2%, Hispanics 17.2%, Asians 14.3 %.

In the series of two blogs, we looked at the dependence of the ethnicity on the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago, showing that the neighbourhoods of Chicago, where the predominantly BME population live, are at the greatest health risk. Efforts are being made by the city government and civil society organizations to reduce this dependence. Still, considering the scale of the problem, it requires a more systemic and thorough approach than the applied pinpoint efforts.


References

Maroko, A. R., Nash, D., & Pavilonis, B. T. (2020) ‘Covid-19 and Inequity: A comparative spatial analysis of New York City and Chicago hot spots’, Journal of Urban Health97(4), 461-470.

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