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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

How Cincinnati Organizations Are Helping Those Sidelined By The Pandemic

depression coronavirus
One study showed a five-fold increase in food insecurity and a 30-fold increase in housing insecurity among Latinos in Cincinnati. Other studies looked at blacks and refugees.

It's no surprise that people are facing the pandemic differently. A number of recent Greater Cincinnati surveys show large disparities in contracting the virus and dealing with it.

One such survey from respondents at the Hamilton County Justice Center found varied reports as to whether or not corrections officers were wearing masks regularly. Aimee Miley with Cincinnati Jail Support told participants on a Zoom call Thursday, "When it comes to cleanliness there were reports of items in common areas not being sanitized or cleaned. Some reported items from previous occupants being in the cell."

Miley says inmates also reported a lack of testing and those with COVID lacked medication. When released, they had problems finding a place to live and their work hours were reduced because of COVID.

They aren't alone.

"Racial and Health Inequities Exposed By COVID-19" was the title of Thursday's Zoom discussion, sponsored by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST).

Dr. Amy Rule with Cincinnati Children's says there were some disturbing findings in a study she did looking at Latinos. "Before the pandemic, when compared to after the pandemic, we saw a five-fold increase in food insecurity. In terms of housing insecurity, we saw a 30-fold increase."

Presenter Bryan Wright looked at the refugee population:

  • 52% reported losing employment income
  • Over 50% felt anxious worried and depressed in the past week
  • One in five did not have enough to eat
  • One-third had problems with online learning

As various organizations report these disturbing statistics, Cincinnati Children's and others are taking steps to remedy the situation. They report proactive outreach, scaling up telehealth, post-discharge follow-up, and the distribution of sanitizers, wipes and the like.
The groups are also promoting non-pharmaceutical interventions, providing data-driven strategies for testing sites and distribution of resources like food, all while focusing on equity.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.