Make homes safe to live in with COVID-19 Relief Funds

In the last week we have been bombarded with local and national media citing how Black Americans are being more impacted by the coronavirus than others. This reflects our ongoing analysis of the impact of poverty and bad public policy on Majority Black Detroit. As we move through and beyond this crisis we will continue to center race and racial equity and the need to address root cause and effect systemic change. To this end we must advocate for meaningful and intentional relief for Detroiters who are most vulnerable and most impacted.

We must use COVID-19 relief funds to make homes safe to live in for Detroiters who are more at risk due to PM2.5* exposure and other environmental and social conditions.

For the last year residents in the “impact area” of the publicly funded Fiat Chrysler expansion project have been fighting for environmental and economic protections and have not been heard. Now, in the face of the coronavirus, these very residents have been identified as some of the most vulnerable in our city. We must demand that our elected officials advocate for COVID-19 relief funds be brought down to the block level and be used to protect their constituents. Please check the resources below and get ready to support our upcoming campaigns.

*What the #%& is PM2.5?

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair.

Since they are so small and light, fine particles tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. This increases the chances of humans and animals inhaling them into the bodies. Owing to their minute size, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and some may even enter the circulatory system.

Studies have found a close link between exposure to fine particles and premature death from heart and lung disease. Fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.


Supporting Documents:

How vulnerable is your community to coronavirus? These new maps reveal a familiar pattern.

Jvion, a healthcare data firm, has collaborated with Microsoft to launch a new COVID-19 community vulnerability map to identify the populations most vulnerable to severe complications following a coronavirus outbreak. The interactive map aggregates socioeconomic and environmental factors, such as lack of access to transportation, exposure to toxins, unemployment, and mortality rate. According to the map, these factors make certain “cancer alley” communities particularly vulnerable.

“Our most heavily weighted and frequent determining risk factor was air quality, though that doesn’t mean that it’s the most predictive factor,” said John Showalter, chief product officer for Jvion. “There’s definitely a biologic rationale that environmental health hazards that lead to pulmonary and cardiovascular conditions would then lead people with those conditions to do poorly during a COVID-19 outbreak.”

COVID Community Vulnerability Map

This map allows you to search and drill down into communities to view populations most vulnerable for severe outcomes if infected with a COVID-like virus and the socioeconomic factors driving that risk.

What are some of the benefits that can be realized by leveraging the COVID Community Vulnerability Map?

Quick identification of those communities where individuals are at risk for experiencing severe outcomes once infected

Ability to plan allocation of resources to those communities predicted to require hospitalization and significant medical intervention

Reduction in bed utilization by the most at-risk population for morbidity/mortality as a result of proactive outreach

 Understanding of top social determinants of health factors driving risk for those communities

COVID-19 PM2.5
A national study on long-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States

Background: United States government scientists estimate that COVID-19 may kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. The majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. We investigate whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

Methods: Data was collected for approximately 3,000 counties in the United States (98% of the population) up to April 04, 2020. We fit zero-inflated negative binomial mixed models using county level COVID-19 deaths as the outcome and county level long-term average of PM2.5 as the exposure. We adjust by population size, hospital beds, number of individuals tested, weather, and socioeconomic and behavioral variables including, but not limited to obesity and smoking. We include a random intercept by state to account for potential correlation in counties within the same state.

Results: We found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate, 95% confidence interval (CI) (5%, 25%). Results are statistically significant and robust to secondary and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: A small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The data and code are publicly available.

Read More:

Detroit is now a Hot Spot because it’s been a HOT MESS since Emergency Management

Ancestor Charity Hicks 🖤 referred to Emergency Management in Detroit as a Hot Mess. 7 years ago this month Democracy was suspended in our city. It was done against the will and the vote of the people and the policies that have been put into place since have hurt everyday Detroiters.

Detroit is now a COVID-19 Hot Spot because it’s been a HOT MESS since Emergency Management.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we pause to give thanks and honor to the front line workers and neighborhood volunteers who are sacrificing their lives and the lives of their families by providing food, water, counseling, housing and direct medical care and mental health support to those in need.

Although it is conventional wisdom that during a crisis we avoid the blame game,the pointing of fingers and suspend judgement about misguided public policies of the past, Detroiters must remain vigilant about how our government is showing up for us and how our democracy is responding on our behalf. Failed economic and social public policies of the recent past have no doubt contributed to the rapid rise of Detroit as one of the coronavirus hot spots. Those policies range from mass water shutoffs and home foreclosures; over investment of public resources in the downtown/midtown sports and entertainment and disinvestment in our neighborhood social and economic infrastructure.

Detroiters must demand accountability from those elected and in power who continue to make decisions everyday in the midst of the epidemic – decisions that will have life and death consequences right now and for years to come.

The aftermath of this pandemic will have far reaching consequences and shape the future of the nation’s largest majority Black city. We need to make sure that the long standing needs of our neighborhoods and communities are positioned first to receive resources that are allocated for the local corona virus recovery.

Finally, as we hold each other in care and solidarity, we invite you to join with the Detroit People’s Platform to build and exercise power in creating a sustainable and vibrant future Detroit rooted in racial and economic justice.


We must center RACE and RACIAL EQUITY during the COVID-19 crisis

A recent article in Bridge Magazine identifies Detroit as having one of the highest per capita coronavirus infection rates in the nation. Just in this past week, news statements have labeled Detroit as one of the coronavirus hot spots, a distinction shared by New York City as well. The article correctly points to the unique vulnerability of Detroiters to CODVID19 based on high rates of chronic and debilitating illness. We would also add exposure to environmental hazards that produce high rates of asthma and respiratory disease as major risk factors for the virus 

These conditions do not randomly occur and are not solely based on individual health behavior. Rather, these health disparities and health inequities are rooted in long standing structural and systemic racism that produces unhealthy outcomes for African Americans. Therefore, it stands to reason that Detroit, the nation’s largest majority Black city and other majority Black communities across Michigan and the nation will disproportionately bear the brunt of the coronavirus epidemic. And while we know that the virus doesn’t discriminate, many of the current systems that impact the daily lives of Black Detroiters do discriminate and produce uneven and unhealthy life circumstances.      

As leaders in Detroit and Lansing struggle to respond to this unprecedented health and economic upheaval, it is critical that our elected officials and policy makers center race and racial equity in the decision-making process.

Detroiters must demand that mitigation and containment strategies take into account the social and economic realities for majority Black Detroit including how and where we earn a living; how we feed and care for our familieshow we share our housing and living spaces across generations; how cultural and spiritual connections are essential and how our very survival historically is rooted in our togetherness in community.   

In addition to much needed and immediate material relief for individuals and families required at this time, Detroiters must also demand that our local government and elected officials be more responsive to the REAL priorities that help mitigate illness and risk to health, and promote the long term health and well being of Detroiters. We must demand an end to the inhumane policies that increase the vulnerability of Detroiters not just to the coronavirus but the sure to come future upheavals.  

We speak specifically about local policies that result in water shutoffs to thousands, loss of secure housing thru unjust foreclosures and eviction; diversion of public assets into the hands of wealthy one percenters and household poverty rates that are some of the highest in the nation.  

Many agree there will be a new normal on the other side of this epidemic. Detroiters must therefore demand a new normal where these unjust policies are not simply put on temporary pause in this moment of crisis but instead are permanently bannedWe WIN this demand by organizing and advocating for a local government that prioritizes investment in our families and neighborhoods as the pathway to a revitalized, resilient and sustainable Detroit


Bridge Magazine: Coronavirus spreading faster in Detroit than nearly anywhere in United States

DETROIT — The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the poorest big city in the nation, prompting concerns about whether a municipality still recovering from bankruptcy can provide services to its most vulnerable residents.

Michigan Public Radio: Detroit is a COVID-19 hotspot. What the data do, and don’t, tell us

Metro Detroit has become one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots. And experts predict the situation will get even more dire in the next several weeks. The city of Detroit is a hotspot within the hotspot. As of Thursday, the city reported 888 COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths so far.