DIFFERENTIAL IMPACT OF SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) WITHIN THE KALAMAZOO COMMUNITY
Introduction: Research studies examining social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on families have described wide variation by community and population groups.
Purpose: To assess COVID-19 impact on day-to-day life and perceptions of SARS-CoV-2 risk. Methods: Study design was mixed
methods: one-on-one phone interviews (n=26 low-income mothers) and electronic questionnaires (n=42 mixed-income mothers) conducted May-October 2020. Audio-taped interviews were thematically analyzed. RedCap questionnaires prioritized qualitative themes, quantifying them with scales developed by COVID-19 researchers. Pearson Chi-Square compared quantitative responses across demographic groups, with a p<0.10 significance threshold.
Results: The following themes dominated COVID-19 concerns: lower quality of remote learning, financial/employment burdens, access to preventive healthcare, and staying COVID-19-free. Questionnaires revealed 54.8% perceived SARS-CoV-2 avoidance "difficult," and were more likely to be people of color (POC) (p=0.089), be lower socioeconomic status (SES) (p=0.039), and know someone with COVID-19 (p=0.106) than those responding SARS-CoV-2 avoidance was "easy." Difficult-to-avoid responders had significantly less confidence in local institutions' and professionals' ability to handle COVID-19. Participants across the board were most worried about overloaded health systems, loved ones, and the economy/jobs. Participants agreed the CDC was the most useful COVID-19 information source, followed by primary care doctors, local news, and the state health department.
Conclusion: Improving health equity during COVID-19 for POC and low SES groups requires focused outreach, given historical marginalization and institutional distrust. Understanding Kalamazoo-specific systemic shortfalls will allow medical providers and health institutions to customize engagement strategies for these groups.