Black people in Greater Cincinnati have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 “in every aspect,” including higher death and sickness rates and greater losses in income, according to a new study.
The Center for Closing the Health Gap, Hamilton County and Xavier University had a hand in conducting the six-week study, which included 3,000 survey responses and interviews with about 80 residents.
Renee Mahaffey Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap, said the issues Black residents are facing in relation to the pandemic reflect health disparities that have been pervasive in the U.S. for centuries.
“With COVID-19, Black people are getting sicker and dying faster,” she said. “Their income is disproportionately lower. Their access to quality information and care is significantly more narrow … the results of this study give us a clear mandate on educating and engaging impacted communities to improve health outcomes related to COVID and improve health disparities for future generations.”
The study also found disparities for Hispanic residents, though not as severe as those for the Black community.
Key findings from the study include:
- Black and Hispanic people are more likely to have known someone who died from COVID-19 (consistent with local and national data) and believe it is a serious threat to their health.
- The majority of people in the study understand how the virus is spread and how to prevent it. Both Black and Hispanic people perceive their risk to be lower due to the precautions taken.
- More than half of everyone who participated in the survey said they were extremely likely to get the vaccine when it becomes available, but Black respondents are significantly least likely to get the vaccine when available.
- People in the study had concerns regarding the vaccine and how quickly it was developed. This incites hesitation about efficacy, side effects, negative reactions and long-term consequences. Many respondents are taking a wait-and-see approach – waiting a few months (or more) to observe others’ reactions to the vaccine.
- Hispanic people are concerned about accessibility of the vaccine. Many respondents noted the challenge of reaching undocumented residents and the cost.
- Participants believe the Cincinnati Health Department is the most trusted source for delivery of COVID-19 vaccine information.
- People of color experienced greater loss in income during the pandemic, even with a survey sample of higher-educated people with higher incomes compared to Hamilton County’s medians.
- Trust of the medical field is not a factor for Hispanic and Asian populations, but it is a “significant barrier” for Black people, due to years of racial discrimination, and the experimentation without consent has led to mistrust.
WDBZ Radio talk show host Lincoln Ware has seen the pandemic’s impact up close.
“I had some close friends who did get COVID-19, and a couple of them ended up on the ventilator – almost died,” he told WCPO.
The choice for him to get the shot was an easy one.
“When they developed the vaccine I said, ‘hey, I’m going to be one of the one of the first to get it if I can,’” Ware said.
He was administered the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine this week.
“I’m okay so far and I’m ready and scheduled to take my next one on the 22nd of the month,” Ware said.
He said he can already see it will be a challenge getting others to change their tune.
“People on the radio were begging me not to get it,” Ware said. “What can you say?”
He said he’s trying to quell the fears of young and old on his show by regularly including doctors to answer tough questions.
“There’s so many conspiracy theories out there,” Ware said.
Another problem facing those who want to get vaccinated: access to the vaccine.
“I still can’t really tell a person where to go right now,” Ware said. “If you hear about it or see about it, it’s already on the news, and it’s over.”