Author ORCID Identifier
Lawrence Schell: 0000-0001-6552-0398
The Capital Region Collaborative Community Survey project was undertaken in December 2020- January 2021 to document the social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 on residents in the Capital Region, particularly in the city of Albany with an emphasis on the impacts on Black and African American (B/AA) communities (n=239). Key findings included B/AA participants reported experiencing general racism or racial discrimination significantly more than other racial groups as did Hispanics. The pandemic impacted employment of Capital Region residents significantly as half of the respondents either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. B/AA individuals were more likely than others to have both their work hours reduced and increased, which aligns with their status as frontline workers in healthcare, food service, groceries and transportation. B/AA were more concerned about losing housing in the near future. Of respondents with children (n=80) 71% reported that the pandemic had affected their child’s emotions very or somewhat negatively with similar percentages reporting that it had affected their child’s school work and child’s social activities very or somewhat negatively. There were no differences between B/AA and Others (members of all other respondent groups combined) in these domains.
Reported high rates of regular mask-wearing and vaccine intent were promising, although 19% of B/AA individuals were extremely or somewhat unlikely to receive a vaccine vs only 11.8% of Others. Vaccine safety was the most frequent reason for hesitancy among B/AA respondents. Even though the internet and social media were common sources of information, they were not deemed as trustworthy as doctors, state and federal health organizations, and community clinics. Internet access was very high in this sample of Albany residents.
The authors recommend 1) More transparency in communication from public officials; 2) More localization in the distribution of resources – including food, testing, and vaccination; 3) Expansion of community based mental health services and funding of research to determine if there are barriers to obtaining a primary care provider or physician outside of a lack of health insurance: 4) Funding of research into how individuals access the internet and their online information-seeking behaviors, including barriers to information seeking; 5) Supports to address food insecurity (caused by suspension of subsidized school breakfasts and lunches, and low-quality substitutions; and/or having additional family members in households who had been displaced from their housing), and housing insecurity (e.g., rent support); and 6) Supports for children suffering from isolation, lack of physical activity, and supports for parents to assist children with online learning, including guidance and recommendations on how to best support their child’s emotional stability, mental health, and coping strategies.
Health Task Force, The Albany Minority; Schell, Lawrence; Golden, Annis; Pieterse, Alex; Krishnan, Archana; Yamamoto, Masahiro; Holdsworth, Elizabeth; Khurana, Pallavi; Mata, Olivia; Williams, Amy; and Myo, Hnin Wai Lwin. 2021. "Capital Region Collaborative Community Survey Project to Document Disparate Impacts of COVID-19" Understanding and eliminating minority health disparities in a 21st-century pandemic: A White Paper Collection. University at Albany, SUNY: Scholars Archive.