University of New Orleans researchers examine unique impact COVID-19 will have on African American community

An April 18 Associated Press headline reported that the racial toll of COVID-19 “grows even starker as more data emerges.” Researchers supported by the Charles Koch Foundation at the University of New Orleans (UNO) were some of the first to uncover this trend.

In a report released 10 days before the story hit, scholars Gregory Price and Eric van Holm of UNO’s Urban Entrepreneurship and Policy Institute reported that the U.S. African American population is more vulnerable to COVID-19. Their research used data from the COVID Tracking Project, which collects testing data from across the United States and all its territories.

Price and van Holm said their findings suggest that “in addition to implementing social distance policies, effective COVID 19 mitigation policies should also consider how the sociodemographic characteristics included in our control covariates are important for the spread of an infectious disease like COVID-19.”

Louisiana was one of the first states to categorize COVID-19 deaths by race. Price and van Holm released their data only one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that African Americans make up 70 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana, but only 32 percent of the state’s population.

Price also has examined how COVID-19 potentially could impact historically black colleges and universities more profoundly than other institutions. Price warned, “To the extent that HBCUs, relative to other schools, owe more debt tied to their dorms, the absence of students in residential on-campus housing could constitute a severe revenue shock.”

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