The Community Engagement Core has recently published a page on our website with information relevant for COVID-19, including information on how to properly clean your home and recommendations for how to appropriately return to work. Please check out this resource. We welcome any feedback and suggestions for additional information that would be helpful to add.
We are writing to put forward our observation that the current distribution of city-operated COVID-19 testing sites is greatly underserving the African-American population of South Philadelphia’s Point Breeze and Gray’s Ferry neighborhoods.
Much to-do has been made in the media about the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on African-American communities across the nation, with the City of Philadelphia acknowledging that 40% of positive cases in this city are African-Americans. Why then have Gray’s Ferry and Point Breeze been denied a testing site? Even if one chooses to ignore that the African-American residents of South Philadelphia are more likely to be essential workers putting them at risk for contracting COVID-19, it cannot be unacknowledged that these residents spent years living in the shadow of the toxic PES refinery and other refineries that still operate along the river.
It does not need to be re-litigated that exposure to the output of these refineries has left swaths of South Philadelphia’s African-American population uniquely vulnerable to some of the pre-existing conditions that potentially make contracting COVID-19 a death sentence. As a community we were happy to see the recent change of testing criteria that would open up COVID-19 testing to more African-Americans, now we ask that the city take additional steps to show it is serious about the health of this city’s black residents.
We, the gathered coalition of signers, call upon the administration of this city to use whatever means necessary to place a testing site in the heart of South Philadelphia’s African-American community.