New report details impact of pandemic on local African-American community

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Will Ross, MD

A recent study commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association determined that ZIP codes with a majority African-American population accounted for 16% of the St. Louis region’s population but 34% of its confirmed COVID-19 cases. In fact, race appeared to be the strongest predictor of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents among 113 ZIP codes across the region.

In an op-ed in the St. Louis American, study co-author Will Ross, MD, professor of medicine and associate dean for diversity, said the study results reveal how decades of economic disinvestment, generational poverty and the toxic stress associated with structural racism have affected the health of African Americans. “Immediate and long-term interventions should focus on public health and trauma-responsive approaches that mitigate the impact of social determinants of health that act on the African-American community, and allocation of resources that promote healing — physical, mental and social,” Ross said.