INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — COVID-19 has had a more profound impact on Black and rural communities compared to other populations, according to a study conducted by the researchers with the Regenstrief Institute and Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University.
Researchers said the study essentially reaffirms what many people already expected. But now there’s additional support for the data they believe is important for policymakers to consider as they think about ways to recover from the pandemic and help people get back on their feet.
The study evaluated COVID-19 data from March 2020 to December 2020.
When the pandemic began, it initially showed higher impacts in urban communities. Brian Dixon is the lead researcher and says it quickly shifted.
“I think what was important about this study is that we were looking at, kind of, all these factors and doing that robust analysis of the data,” he said.
The research took into account test results from about 1.8 million Hoosiers. It looked at both hospitalization and death records.
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Research showed Black people in rural areas had three to four times higher chances for hospitalization compared to white counterparts living in urban settings. And death rates were about double.
“Important for policymakers as we think about how we’re going to recover from the pandemic,” Dixon said. “These communities that were hit hardest by COVID-19, they’re going to need to recover. And they’re going to need programs.”
Dixon says the data also shows the first wave of COVID infections were highest in urban areas. But in the summer of 2020, things changed and hospitalization and death rates started rising in rural locations.
“We saw rates pick up at the end of the summer last year. This year, it’s more like the middle of the summer, but the patterns are eerily the same,” he said.