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Protecting vulnerable communities during the pandemic and beyond

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ST. LOUIS – The COVID pandemic has left behind a devastating trail of serious issues in Black communities.

Dr. Kendra Holmes, president and CEO of Affinia Healthcare, says there’s been a big jump in mental health cases and increased anxiety and drug overdoses as a result of the problems brought on by COVID.

She says Black and Brown communities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. The lion’s share of COVID fatalities have been in minority communities. That means minorities have lost more family members that anyone else. In some cases, COVID has wiped out many members of the same family, including mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.

According to one study, there’s a 5% increase in anxiety among African Americans, and a 9% jump in suicidal ideation. Overdoses among Black males are up over 200%.

Often, the main breadwinners in families have been killed by COVID and that’s had a huge economic impact.

The St. Louis area is still coping with COVID. Positive test rates may be high, but deaths have remained flat and hospitalizations have not skyrocketed, partly because of advances like vaccines and boosters.

Dr. Holmes says one of the huge issues in minority communities is lack of access to adequate medical care, and that makes them more susceptible to troubles in pandemics.

Mayors in north St. Louis County have joined forces to push the state into committing more resources to tackle the mental health issues in the minority communities made worse by COVID. They say often it’s a problem that’s ignored that can contribute to a wide range of issues, like violent crime.

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