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COVID-19: Beyond Tomorrow
July 23, 2020

The Work of Philanthropy in Responding to COVID-19 and Addressing Inequality: A New Foundation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Ford Foundation, New York, New York
JAMA. Published online July 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12904

World history in the early 21st century will be divided into 2 distinct eras—before coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and after.1

The COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything the US and many countries have encountered. Previous crises have mostly occurred in one location or region, and others from elsewhere have been called upon to provide rescue assistance. This pandemic, however, is global, and has affected every country. This public health emergency has upended every aspect of life, and in the process, peeled back the layers of inequality and laid bare countless faulty systems that govern the world.

In the US, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread disproportionately affects people of color. In Washington, DC, Black residents comprise less than half the population and account for 76% of the district’s COVID-19–related deaths.2 Across the country, approximately 1 in 5 counties is predominantly Black, yet these areas account for 58% of the country’s COVID-19 deaths.3 A recent federal study of Medicare recipients found that hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are 4 times greater among Black beneficiaries than among White beneficiaries, with 465 cases and 123 cases per 100 000 beneficiaries, respectively.4