Recent studies from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have found that there is an association between rising COVID-19 deaths and states that have lifted eviction moratoriums.
Led postdoctoral researcher Kathryn Leifheit, a team at UCLA looked at 43 states and the District of Columbia that instituted eviction moratoriums between March 13 and April 30 before examining states that did not. Then, the group worked to isolate the effect of a single policy by conducting several sensitivity tests.
“The size of the association and the number of cases and deaths that we end up attributing to these moratoriums lifting was surprising to us,” Leifheit said.
Their model found that COVID-19 numbers worsened as time went on. Seven weeks after lifting an eviction moratorium, states saw 1.6 times more deaths than states that did not lift their eviction moratorium. Sixteen weeks after lifting eviction moratoriums, eviction moratorium lifting states saw 2.1 times as many cases and 5.4 as many deaths. Overall, states that lifted their moratoriums experienced 433,700 additional positive COVID-19 cases and endured nearly 11,000 more COVID-19 related deaths.
“The way that we explain the stronger effect on mortality than incidence is evictions disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities often people that have comorbidities and health problems prior to experiencing eviction.”
Leifheit's team continues to work on refining their study and further isolating the effects of eviction moratorium. Their work arrives at a time when nearly 40 million Americans could face evictions in the coming months. As shown in Portland, the eviction process can become confrontational and extremely difficult for Black families. Less than 50% of Black Americans live in homes they own and a study from the U.S. Census Bureau found that less than 25% of Black Americans had a "high" confidence that they could continue paying their rent during the pandemic.
Adding on, the pandemic has had disproportionate effects on Black communities when removing eviction moratoriums from the conversation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that Black people are 3.7 times more likely than white Americans to be hospitalized for the coronavirus. Also, Black Americans are 2.8 times more likely than white Americans to die from the virus.
As Leifheit and company continue to work, their findings could very well document how the actions of local, state and federal officials could very well be killing off more Black Americans during a pandemic.
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