The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 in St. Louis

“The smoldering disparities that we’ve allowed to persist for decades are bursting into flames. If the human toll of those disparities isn’t enough to motivate us, remember that this is an infectious disease, so that fire will spread.”

In episode 1 of a 5 part series on Medium, PRC’s Karishma Furtado and Alex Morshed discuss the disparate impact of COVID-19 in St. Louis among Black residents. Furtado and Morshed bring to light systemic racism that has propagated these disparities.

“There are many reasons for this, but ultimately they are less about race and more about systemic racism– which makes Black St. Louisans less able to shelter in place because they cannot afford to stay home, more likely to have underlying conditions that make the disease more serious, and less likely to have the resources to seek care.”

Additionally, Furtado and Morshed cite barriers to healthcare for Black populations including: lack of awareness, means, and resulting lack of trust that make treating COVID difficult for Black St. Louisans.

“We need to test more, faster, and equitably” says Furtado and Morshed. “Testing is how we will know whether pandemic suppression efforts are working and whether we will be able to relax them any time soon. If we want to leave the land of social distancing, we need to halt community transmission, which will not happen if we are systematically allowing the disease to persist among some communities.”

As of April 20th, COVID-19 case and death rates were nearly four times higher among Black St. Louis County residents compared to White. And in the city, Black residents were 3.3 times more likely to test positive.

The full article is available on Medium.