Credentials of Corresponding Author
Name of Faculty Advisor
We sought to address racial/ethnic inequities in the current pandemic by (1) providing free COVID-19 testing for suburban Cook County residents in hard-hit communities; (2) identifying possible transmission routes through social network and epidemiologic analysis; (3) conducting serologic surveillance of immune response through serial antibody testing; (4) biobanking nasopharyngeal and serum samples for emerging pathogen surveillance; and 5) addressing social and legal needs.
Background and significance
In suburban Cook County, African American and Hispanic/Latinx residents have 2.5 and 3.5 times higher COVID test positive rates, respectively, than White counterparts. Some of the communities carrying the highest burden of COVID-19 have limited access to affordable healthcare and testing.
This research project is built upon the work of the interprofessional COVID Equity Response Collaborative Loyola (CERCL). CERCL has adopted the test-trace-isolate public health strategy for pandemics.
Informed consent is obtained separately for testing and each component of research. We offer free COVID testing using nasopharyngeal samples, and screen for legal and social needs; administer a modified version of the General Social Survey (GSS) network questionnaire; biobank nasopharyngeal and serum samples; and will monitor individual’s immune response to SARS-CoV2 over time by detecting antibodies (via ELISA) in serial serum samples.
Since November 2020, CERCL has provided testing for 235 participants. The majority of participants have been African American (64.6%) and Hispanic/Latinx (23.4%). Overall test positivity rate over the initial 6-week period is 33.3%. Participants reported loss of income due to COVID-19 (29.9%) and struggles to afford food and pay rent (26.8%). The research project is ongoing.
Residents of color in suburban Cook County have high positive test rates and are struggling to meet basic needs. After 10 months of the pandemic, the support and resources for these communities remain severely lacking. A plan to significantly increase support, resources, and affordable healthcare to these communities is a warranted public priority.
COVID Equity Response Collaborative Loyola (CERCL): Understanding COVID-19 Transmission in Communities of Color