In late 2017, ARCHI officially kicked off intentional efforts to highlight our centering of health equity in our work. We began with a year-long learning series that raised many national examples of how structural racism has and continues to impact the health and wellbeing of communities of color. During this series, we also made a concentrated effort to highlight these inequities within the context of the Atlanta region. We looked at the practice and impacts of redlining, transportation inequities, the physical and mental effects of inequity, and gaps in life expectancy. When we began this work and in the years and months since, at no time could we have imagined that a pandemic the magnitude of COVID-19 would hit the world and become a real-time illustration of inequity at play.
The pandemic has exposed startling inequities that have long existed, but could be overlooked by those who are not directly impacted. While we have all have affected by COVID-19 in some way (e.g. schools and offices closing, the shortage of essential supplies, etc.), more and more data is being released that shows that Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color are bearing the brunt of the impact of COVID-19. Some examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities include:
Communities of color are more likely to have underlying health conditions and comorbidities that exacerbate COVID-19 infections and Black, Latinx, and other people of color are more likely to be uninsured than their White counterparts, making access to treatment harder to obtain. For more information on racial health disparities and inequities – For more information, please reference our December 6, 2017 Meeting Presentation located on our website and Camara Jones Explains the Cliff of Good Health.
People who are experiencing homeless cannot shelter in place or unable to practice social distancing, this population is among the most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, we know both nationally and in Atlanta, the majority of people who are experiencing homelessness are Black –For more information, please reference our SPARC Report and March 11, 2020 Presentation
One thing that has been made clear is that systems cannot go back to operating as they did pre-COVID-19. In order to be better responsive to the next wave of the pandemic or even future global events, systems must be dismantled and there has to be a collaborative effort to rebuild to avert the devastation of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other communities of color. ARCHI remains committed to sharing our ongoing health equity learning and to highlighting the work of our partners toward improving the health and wellbeing of all Atlantans.