Virginia Tech’s Wornie Reed helps lead nationwide outreach effort, Coronavirus Urban Report

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The impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of ethnic minority groups is still emerging; however, current statistics suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among people of color.

“Many black residents live in segregated neighborhoods that lack job opportunities, stable housing, grocery stores with healthy food, and more. These communities, structurally, are breeding grounds for the transmission of the disease,” said Virginia Tech’s Wornie Reed. “African Americans are quite often the front-line service workers: janitors, messengers, food service employees, and bus drivers, thus continually in possible paths of this virus.”

Wornie Reed is playing a key role in nationwide outreach designed to disseminate culturally appropriate information and tips produced from the perspective of low-income African Americans. The Coronavirus Urban Report takes its cues from residents in Cleveland’s urban core neighborhoods to gather input about concerns and questions to create meaningful content to respond to community needs.

“We have known about the disparities for about six weeks,” he said. “However, we still do not have complete counts of estimates as many states do not provide that kind of data. We are basing our current estimates on the 38 states that provide demographic information.”

Virginia Tech’s Reed, who met Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and joined him on the 1963 March on Washington, is a sociology professor and the director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center within the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.  He serves as the research director and a principal spokesperson for the Coronavirus Urban Report as an expert on race and ethnic health disparities.

“Blacks die from major diseases more often than whites because they have a disproportionate share of the social determinants of health, the most important of which are low socio-economic status and inner-city dwelling,” said Reed. “COVID-19 is a particular instance of a disease affected by the poor conditions that a disproportionately number of African Americans live in.”

 

         
 

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