PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The increase in gun violence in Philadelphia is happening in neighborhoods also hard hit by the coronavirus, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania. Like many other big urban cities, the minority community in Philadelphia is getting a double dose of trauma with gun violence and COVID-19.
It’s expected to get worse with the upcoming heatwave.
The spike of violence is happening mainly in North and West Philadelphia, where new research shows there’s also been an increased number of people infected with COVID-19.
“It’s a really critical time,” Dr. Zaffer Qasim, with Penn Medicine, said.
Qasim, an emergency department physician, led the study at the University of Pennsylvania. Even though the city was under a stay-at-home order for months, that didn’t stop the spread of COVID-19 or violence in some already struggling neighborhoods.
“People lost their jobs, people had a lot more unstructured time,” Qasim said, “where they were either home or close proximity. Stress and tensions may certainly have risen from inabilities to work and provide for their families.”
Is this a connection to poverty?
“Yes, you can certainly say that,” Qasim said. “Poor socio-economic conditions lead to a number of issues.”
During the pandemic, there’s also been an increase in gun sales that disproportionately impacts minorities — a community especially hard hit by the coronavirus because of higher rates of diabetes, obesity and hypertension that increase the risk for infection and serious complications.
“Residents of these neighborhoods face significant disparities in access to health care,” Qasim said.
While cases of COVID-19 have leveled off, another surge is expected, and gun violence that traditionally goes up in the summer is expected to get worse. All of which sounds like a confluence of a lot of difficult circumstances that many people in Philadelphia are going to be faced with.
“This is certainly not a time at all when we can let our guard down,” Qasim said.
The Penn research also showed lower rates of both COVID-19 and violence in more affluent neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.