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The Cost of COVID

In the 2021-2022 academic year, OWI Education Services presented a research project to Portland State University undergraduate students taking the course "Measuring People and Communities in an Urban Context". The students were asked to focus on the financial and social impacts of COVID infections and COVID-related deaths within the Black community of Clark County. Below, you can read a summary of their findings. If you would like to receive a complete report, we highly recommend that you contact the students directly. 

Vaccine Clinics vs Existing Disparities: Was the COVID Response Effective?

James Stewart

Stewart's study mapped out the proximity of Mobile Vaccine clinics to communities of color to display the impact of placement on equitable access to vaccines and testing. 

The prevalence of pre-existing health conditions that led to more severe COVID infections, especially among the Black community is a direct result of inequitable access to routine and preventative care.  Stewart's focus on vaccine distribution is an example of how proximity of health resources to communities of color can impact current disparities. 

Overall, a larger effort must be done to increase access to preventative care and lessen the prevalence of  high-risk health conditions.  In some cases, placement of mobile vaccine clinics highlighted the logistical challenges communities of color face when accessing health resources. 

To learn more about this study, we recommend that you contact the researcher.

Infographic of Findings

James Stewart (he/him)

is an undergraduate student at Portland State University studying Community Development and GIS. He has a special fondness for transportation and a gift of building community in every coffee shop he works at.


COVID in the Community
Diverse Experiences within the Black Community

Ahlam Osman

Osman conducted a series of interviews with various community members throughout the Spring 2022 Semester and during the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration (June 2022). 


Interviewees were randomly selected. Among her interviewees were:

  • A community leader on the frontlines of providing health and food resources to people living on the streets 

  • A religious leader who had contracted COVID, and had conducted over 50 funerals within Black Community

  • A youth that transitioned from remote highschool to the in-person job market, coping with social anxiety brought on by the pandemic

  • A youth, working to help their family financially recover, since their large immigrant family was mostly hospitalized resulting in a huge loss of income

  • And a few more


To learn more about the way COVID was experienced within the Black community through these interviews, you can contact Ahlam Osman to present her interview-based research and findings. 

Ahlam Osman_edited_edited.jpg

Ahlam Osman (she/her)

is an undergraduate student at Portland State University studying Community Development and Public Affairs.



Cost of Hospitalizations

Jose Resendiz  

COVID may not kill you, but can you afford to catch a serious infection?

Resendiz's study showed that for the thousands of Black community members hospitalized and the hundreds that died in Clark County, the medical debts exacerbated already existing economic hardships for the insured and uninsured alike. 

Average insurance coverages only covered a fraction of the actual medical bills. At the time of this study, there was, and remains,  apprehension regarding vaccines, despite their ability to prevent serious infection and hospitalization, especially among those with underlying health conditions. As COVID-related deaths started to lessen and mask mandates were lifted, we looked at the overall financial risks to Black individuals who had experienced severe infections.


The findings from Resendiz's research are in this presentation.  For more details, or to request a presentation from the student, you can contact them by email. 


About the Instructor

Sarah Chivers_edited.jpg

Sarah Chivers (she/her)

is an educator and labor organizer at Portland State University + Washington State University where she teaches intersectional sociology courses about social inequality, social justice, research methods, and community organizing.  In all her work, she seeks to center the voices of Black community and empower BIPOC students to build social, racial, and environmental justice. 

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