Leaders discuss COVID-19 impacts on black communities, disparities in access to vital resources

Updated: May. 6, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Simmons College on Wednesday welcomed leaders to talk about the impacts COVID-19 has had on African-American communities across the country, as well as in Louisville.

Following the discussion, retired UofL Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Douglas said access to resources such as grocery stores and other vital businesses are at the core of the disproportionate numbers of hospitalizations and deaths of black members of the population in comparison to whites.

“Redlining is a form of discrimination, and assuring less competition from blacks,” Douglas said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said redlining, or residential housing segregation, forced minorities into more densely-populated areas. It’s long been linked to a variety of adverse health outcomes and conditions, and it puts minorities in neighborhoods that lack medical facilities and other essential resources. The CDC said that combination creates an unhealthy environment.

“Nationally, the picture is very disturbing,” Rep. John Yarmuth said.

During their daily media briefings, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear have been sharing data about cases and deaths attributed to the coronavirus, including the racial breakdown in those cases.

“Hundreds of years of inequality have led to this point,” Beshear said recently. “I hope one of the things that comes out of this is real significant change about breaking down some of those inequalities, especially with access to health care.”

Yarmuth said Congress passed a bill that set aside tens of billions of dollars to address the racial and gender gaps.

“In the last bill we passed, we set aside $60 billion that would go to community banks and other providers of funding to go specifically to black-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and indigenous-owned businesses,” he said.

Leaders said the broken circle of economics, safety and health needs to be linked in order to address inequities.

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