We Must Save Us — Community Impact

African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in every aspect, including higher death and sickness rates, greater losses in income.

The COVID-19 Mitigating the Impact of Black and Brown Populations Report is complete. Thank you to all who shared their perspectives. Because of you, we gathered important data to inform future community programs and outreach.

The Center for Closing the Health Gap — in partnership with Hamilton County — has completed comprehensive research into the local impact of COVID-19 on Black and Hispanic populations in Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati. Participants included 3,000 survey responses (with partner Xavier University) and qualitative interviews with almost 80 residents.

The goal of the research is to raise awareness, build knowledge, and expand capacity to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities. Barriers to COVID-19 education and engagement:

  • Respondents noted the difference between an anti-vaccine stance versus their COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. All recognize benefit of various successful vaccines (polio, smallpox, tetanus, mumps).
  • Years of racial discrimination, experimentation without consent and ignoring the specific needs of African Americans led to mistrust in healthcare and government systems.
  • Respondents cited government-led efforts like the Tuskegee Experiment. The “egregious harm and trauma” caused by them has served as generational warnings.
  • Trust of the medical field and vaccine developers a significant barrier for African Americans. Trust has been difficult to build with many being underserved, feeling disconnected, not listened to, or/and dismissed by medical professionals.
  • African Americans are twice as concerned about a bad reaction to the vaccine compared to the total sample.

The study also found disparities for Hispanic residents, though not as severe as those for the African American community. Additional key findings:

  • African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely to have known someone who died from COVID-19, and therefore believe it is a serious threat to their health.
  • The majority of respondents understand how the virus is spread, its risks, and its prevention basics. Both African Americans and Hispanics perceive their risk to be lower due to precautions taken.
  • More than half of total survey respondents are extremely likely to get the vaccine when it becomes available, but African American respondents are less likely to get the vaccine when available.
  • There are concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine safety. The speed at which it was approved incites hesitation and concerns about the efficacy, side effects, negative reactions, and long-term consequences. Many respondents are waiting to observe others’ reactions to the vaccine.
  • Hispanics are concerned about the accessibility of the vaccine, and the challenge of reaching undocumented residents — and the cost.
  • Even with a survey sample of higher-educated people with higher incomes compared to Hamilton County’s medians, respondents of color experienced a greater loss in income during the pandemic.
  • Trust of the medical field and vaccine developers is not a factor for Hispanic and Asian populations. Adversely, it is a significant barrier for African Americans.


The study has confirmed many historical realities related to ethnic health disparities and shined a light on new insights and paths to improve the lives of marginalized people right here in Cincinnati. It’s time for our leaders to come together to make systemic changes and improvements so that access to information and care is more equitable.



The Health Gap campaign is supported by funding from the Hamilton County CARES Act.