New Castle County offers $10 million to reduce coronavirus health care inequity

People of color in Delaware's most populous county have a higher rate of infection than white residents. The county will offer $10 million to community groups to reduce that.

Wilmington, Delaware (Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons)

Wilmington, Delaware (Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons)

Delaware’s total number of COVID-19 cases is up to 16,770, an increase of 55 people. The state Division of Public health says there have been 600 coronavirus related deaths. That’s unchanged since Tuesday.

Disparity in COVID-19 cases

People of color in Delaware’s most populous county have a higher rate of infection than white residents. The county will offer $10 million to community groups to reduce that disparity.

Black and Latino residents have higher rates of coronavirus infection in Delaware’s most populous New Castle County. The rate for Black residents is 1,820 per 10,000 residents. It’s 1,672 per 10,000 residents for Latinos. The rate for white residents is 1,414 per 10,000.

The higher infection rate for people of color is out of line with the county’s demographics. Whites make up nearly 70% of the county population, while Black residents make up 24% and Latino residents 9%.

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“Our communities of color have been underserved for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated healthcare challenges across our county,” said Matt Meyer, New Castle County Executive.

Friday morning, Meyer announced a plan to spend $10 million of the county’s CARES Act funds to reduce that inequity. “These funds will be used to address immediate and urgent needs forced by the pandemic,” he said.

This effort is a result of the county’s Promote Health Equity Committee formed in June at the urging of an editorial written by Jordan Hines who is a member of the committee. Hines said his editorial was “a call for action for our elected officials to create a Covid-19 task force that focuses on racial and ethnic disparities.”

The money will be distributed to community-based groups including non-profits, houses of worship and other organizations that help underserved populations in the county. The money must be used for COVID-19 related expenses.

The application for funding is available on the county’s CARES Act website.

The show must go on

Like many performance arts groups, Delaware Shakespeare canceled its planned performances this year due to COVID-19.

Now the theatre troupe is getting money from the National Endowment for Arts to create a new online production, and possibly in-person performances. The group will use the $50,000 grant to hire four associate artists through the end of the year. One of the new artists will work as arts journalist-in-residence, documenting Delaware Shakespeare’s efforts to produce programming during the pandemic.

The group will produce an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which was originally scheduled to debut in October. That production, which will reimagine the main characters Viola and Sebastian as Latino immigrants who are shipwrecked.

A virtual introductory event is planned for Saturday, August 29, with actors sharing recipes connected to various Shakespeare characters. “Three Artists, Four Humors & Food!” is a pay-what-you-want event and registration is available at Delaware Shakespeare’s website.

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