This visual is from a Harvard-led (Wu et al. 2020), investigating the relationship between exposure to PM. 2.5 and COVID-19 mortality in the US. After the onset of the pandemic in spring, St. John Parish, Louisiana saw one of the COVID-19 highest death rates in the country (Kasakove 2020); in August, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,1442 cases and 92 deaths.
Kimberly Terrell, Outreach Director at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, further analyzed the data on request of the environmental justice group Concerned Citizens of St. John. Terrell particularly looked into the significance of underlying conditions. In her final report, Terrell notes low diabetes and high obesity rates. However, she emphasizes that the number of COVID-19 deaths in St. John is much higher than in parishes with similar obesity rates (Terrell 2020).
The visual was altered by Terell, adding geographic information (location of the Parish) and adjusted transparency to identify air pollution "hotspots" for fenceline communities along the river.
COVID-19 adds another layer of injustice to Black, Latinx, and low-income communities in the US. From forcing communities to live in sacrifice zones to prison pandemic, racism compounds vulnerability to COVID-19 by denying people the right to life. This visual is from a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London in June 2020. Read the Roundtable on the Pandemics of Racism, Environmental Injustice, and COVID-19 in America to learn more.
On 9 June 2020, the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a live-streamed public hearing on Pollution and Pandemics: COVID-19's Disproportionate Impact on Environmental Justice Communities.
Witnesses were Mustafa Santiago Ali (Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization, National Advocacy Center at the National Wildlife Federation), Jacqueline Patterson (Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP), and Shay Hawkins (Opportunity Funds Association).
The pandemic has reduced the critical testing of toddlers and kids in the US for lead poisoning. This disproportionately influences low-income communities of color as they are more likely to live in housing contaminated with lead. Stay-at-home orders mean that kids will encounter indoor environments more frequently, compounding toxic exposures.
The visual is from Wikimedia Commons, a canister from the Dutch Boy Paint company of Cleveland, Ohio.
Ohio has one of the highest lead poisoning levels in the US.