By now, it goes without saying that Covid-19 threw the world into a tailspin.  And similarly to other global disasters, like flooding due to climate change, the pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income consumers and people of color.  Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in FDA v. ACOG was one important recognition that “minority and low-income populations are more likely to live in intergenerational housing, so patients risk infecting not just themselves, but also elderly parents and grandparents,” and that “COVID–19’s mortality rate is three times higher for Black and Hispanic individuals than non-Hispanic White individuals.”

A recent study in Applied Geography provided more evidence of Covid-19’s disparate impact by observing foot traffic at approximately 400 food retailers in the Columbus, Ohio, area.  According to the findings, Big Box Stores and stores with a higher percentage of white customers showed the steepest decline in shoppers during the lockdown.  Consistently, these stores also showed the fastest rebound in April when the state began reopening.  By contrast, the smallest shifts in in-person shopping occurred in dollar stores, stores in low-income neighborhoods, and stores with low-income shoppers.

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In addition to revealing the pandemic’s impacts, the study highlights a problem that transcends 2020—that access to big grocery stores and healthy food is often a privilege for the rich.

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