Structural Racism Drives Higher COVID-19 Death Rates in Louisiana, UMD Study Finds

Black Families More Likely to Face ‘Stressors’ That Increased Vulnerability to Disease

Disproportionately high COVID-19 mortality rates among Black populations in Louisiana parishes are the result of longstanding health vulnerabilities associated with institutional and societal discrimination, according to new research conducted by an interdisciplinary University of Maryland team.

“Our results suggest that structural racism and inequities led to severe disparities in initial COVID-19 effects among highly populated Black Louisiana communities, and that as the virus moved into less densely populated Black communities, similar trends emerged,” the researchers concluded in a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research was conducted under the mentorship of Clark Distinguished Chair Deb Niemeier and Associate Professor Jennifer D. Roberts in the Department of Kinesiology. The study’s lead authors include graduate students Kristen Croft of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nora Hamovit of the Department of Biology and Guangxiao Hu of the Department of Geographical Sciences. Read more about JPB Fellow Jennifer Roberts’ research.