Population Health

August 13, 2020

Initiative announces award of 14 COVID-19 population health equity research grants

Image of the coronavirusThe University of Washington Population Health Initiative announced the award of approximately $265,000 in COVID-19 population health equity research grants to 14 different teams of UW faculty researchers and community leaders. Funding was partially matched by additional school, college, departmental, and external funds, bringing the total value of these awards to roughly $378,000.

These population health equity research grants are intended to support UW researchers in partnering with communities of color – which are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – to develop COVID-19 research projects that address community-identified needs.

“This pandemic is exploiting pre-existing health disparities in communities of color that were already causing massive inequities,” said Ali H. Mokdad, the university’s chief strategy officer for population health and professor of health metrics sciences. “The 14 projects selected for funding are addressing critical research needs identified by different communities, which we believe will accelerate efforts to better understand, mitigate or reverse the pandemic’s impact on communities of color.”

The project teams are composed of individuals representing 11 different UW schools and colleges and 26 different community-based organizations. These community-based partners include the Black Farmers Collective, Filipino Community of Seattle, El Proyecto Bienestar, Northwest African American Museum, Khmer Community of Seattle King County, Tenants Union of Washington State, Somali Health Board and the Urban Indian Health Institute.

The awardees are:

Assessing COVID-19 Mental Health Impacts to Inform Filipino Community Center-Provided Services

Christopher B. Knaus, Professor, School of Education, University of Washington Tacoma;
Agnes Navarro, Executive Director, Filipino Community of Seattle;
Cyndy R. Snyder, Affiliate Faculty, Department of Family Medicine, UW School of Medicine

Project abstract
The Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS) in South Seattle provides culturally responsive services, including access to health-related information and services, housing supports, public assistance, computer training, and cultural programming to King County’s Filipinx communities. One set of services include culturally appropriate daily lunches, group exercises, and related health services to approximately 250 Filipinx seniors.

Many of these seniors are on fixed incomes, are veterans and/or family members of veterans, and live within resource depleted regions. In response to COVID-19 impacts, FCS has had to dramatically cut services to promote social isolation. This isolation, however, keeps Filipinx seniors from daily health-related and culturally enriching activities, exacerbating what preliminary research suggests: that COVID-related isolations contribute to mental health crises and related disparities. This proposal thus supports two sets of data collections to assess current mental health impacts from related isolations, as well as digital access for future FCC-provided services.

While FCC is already streaming limited services and working to support WiFi access, less is known about current access conditions and related disparities. The first approach would survey up to 250 Filipinx seniors as they pick up lunches at FCC, mapping digital access, device usage, and WiFi quality. The second would interview up to 50 seniors, assessing mental health impacts and potential service implications. Interviews, transcriptions, and initial analyses would be conducted by FCC affiliates familiar with the community and services provided, in collaboration with Drs. Knaus and Snyder.

Final analyses will directly inform FCS’s provision of health-related activities, including considerations for future grant funds to support new (or digitally available) activities, as well as programming space in FCS’s new senior housing development, which has an anticipated opening in summer 2021.

Building Resilient Attitudes with Virtual Engagement (BRAVE): A Feasibility Study on Online Mental Health Webinars for Black and Asian Americans during COVID-19

Yvonne Lin, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy
Sondrina Bullitt, Community Leader, Influential Point
Jahmil Lacey and Italo Brown, Community Leaders, Trap Medicine
Khadija Ameen and Paulah Wheeler, Community Leaders, BLKHLTH
Tammy Cho, Community Leader, Hate Is A Virus
Tamsin Lee, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Nursing

Project abstract
Four-in-ten Black and Asian American adults have reported negative experiences due to their race or ethnicity since the COVID-19 outbreak including worrying about wearing a mask, slurs or jokes, and fear of being physically attacked. Historically, the two communities have had periods of inter-racial tension. In addition, these communities experience the universal disruption of everyday routines and limited ability to connect with friends and family due to COVID-19.

To address their mental health challenges while fostering interracial community support, we propose a feasibility study to explore the use of online peer-support for Black and Asian American adults aged 17 to 40 years. This study aims to: 1) examine whether Black and Asian American adults are willing to participate and adhere to three 1-hour interactive webinars focused on mental health; 2) explore potential benefits of the webinars on race-related stressors as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis; and 3) develop interracial webinar-based community support that can be adapted and disseminated more widely.

This study will evaluate participants’ satisfaction with the webinars and identify barriers to recruitment and adherence to an online mental health peer-support program. The project will bring together several community organizations serving Black and Asian communities and the data collected will provide community organizations a better understanding of online programs and methodological issues for a larger scale study.

Developing Planning and Implementation Strategies to Promote Community-Based Organizations as Public Health Liaisons and Critical Service Providers in the Era of COVID-19

Edmund Seto, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Deric Gruen, MPA, Co-Executive Director, Programs & Policy, Front and Centered
Aurora Martin, JD, Co-Executive Director, Capacity Building, Front and Centered
Esther Min, PhD, Research Consultant, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Project abstract
In Washington State, frontline communities who are already impacted by environmental health disparities and unequal burden to climate impacts are now facing elevated risk to COVID-19. There is a strong need for effective planning and implementation strategies that deeply integrates and considers the role of community-based organizations (CBOs) in response to COVID-19 as information hubs, testing sites, and critical service providers.

The goals of this research project are to develop statewide planning and implementation strategies to improve equity in access to COVID-19 testing and future vaccination campaigns for SARS-CoV-2. Through key informant interviews and participatory mapping, we aim to understand the role of CBOs in serving frontline communities of needs related to COVID-19 and evaluate potential facilitators and barriers to accessing COVID-19 related information that are critical to ongoing disease control, such as testing, and forthcoming vaccination campaigns.

This project will develop potential planning and implementation strategies and a map that identifies community assets and facilitators for receiving information and testing for COVID. Planning and implementation strategies and maps developed will inform local and state agencies and public health agencies on best practices of engaging CBOs as public health liaisons and critical service providers.

COVID-19 Food Access among American Indian/Alaska Native Tribes in WA State: The Value of Food Sovereignty

Jennifer Otten, Associate Professor, Department of Environment & Occupational Health Sciences and Food Systems Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition, UW School of Public Health
Victoria Warren-Mears, Director, Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
Nora Frank-Buckner, Food Sovereignty Initiatives Director, Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
Brinda Sivaramakrishnan, Professor, Tacoma Community College
Laura Lewis, Associate Professor, Community and Economic Development, Washington State University
Adam Drewnowski, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition, UW School of Public Health

Project abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities and their main sources of economic support. Tribal reservations have seen higher infection rates compared to neighboring areas and the closure of gaming and hospitality businesses has removed some of the vital economic lifelines. Many tribal communities are struggling to meet basic food needs, especially in deprived and geographically remote areas of Washington State.

Currently, little is known about how the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington State are coping with the present crisis. Tribal food security may depend on the resilience of the local food supply chains, but also on the continued functioning of alternative food systems (hunting, fishing) that are a key component of food sovereignty. The NW Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition (NTFSC) staff at the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (NWTEC) will work with the UW Center for Public Health Nutrition to develop unique culturally and regionally relevant instruments to define and measure constructs of food security that are of importance to the AI/AN population.

We propose a mixed-methods assessment. Qualitative interviews will explore perceptions of food access and food security in the context of traditional diets, in addition to reservation-specific avenues of food access such as commodity foods program and community-based food distribution. A quantitative online survey will address barriers to food access and their likely impact on diets and health. The goal is to explore how the existing food systems and the concepts of resilience and food sovereignty are being shaped by the pandemic.

Mitigating Exposure to Contamination in Community Gardens During COVID-19

Melanie Malone, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell
Neli Jasuja, Program Manager Nature Connections, Young Women Empowered (Y-WE)
Lisa Kenny, Mycoremediation Facilitator, Y-WE
Gari Watkins, Urban Food Systems Research & Evaluation Aide, Urban Food Initiative
Ray Williams, Director, Black Farmers Collective

Project abstract
This community collaboration project will address the needs of several community partners in Urban
Community Gardens (UCGs) in Seattle that are facing contamination in soils and plants in their gardens. The project seeks to: 1) provide safe food to children of emergency frontline workers who use food in contaminated UCGs; 2) remediate contamination in UCGs; and 3) prevent further airborne contamination of UCGs in the Duwamish Superfund.

The project will take a collaborative approach to remediating soils in the UCGs by using a mycoremediation project identified by Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), and by also constructing a greenhouse with specialized filters to intercept air contamination into the UCGs. Dr. Malone will also sample soils and plants for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in order to determine if they are posing a risk to children of frontline workers in a children’s UCG. Dr. Malone has already identified elevated concentrations of arsenic, lead, glyphosate, and petroleum projects that are known to cause health effects in UCGs in her current research project.

Funding from the Population Health Initiative will rapidly advance the project in protecting communities from further exposure to contamination in their food spaces, and by remediating spaces that are increasingly used to supplement dietary needs, as COVID-19 persists and creates additional food insecurity in vulnerable communities of color in her research program.

Community-Driven Approaches to Identify Barriers to Food Security Due to COVID-19 and Solutions to Improve Food Security and Resilience in Agricultural Communities

June Spector, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Director, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, UW
Elizabeth Torres, Coordinator, El Proyecto Bienestar and Northwest Communities Education Center and Radio KDNA
Jennifer Krenz, Research Coordinator, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Maria Blancas, Graduate Student, Environmental and Forest Sciences, College of the Environment; Outreach and Education Specialist, Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (PNASH)
Jennifer Otten, Associate Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Sarah Collier, Assistant Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Yona Sipos, Lecturer, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Edward Kasner, Clinical Assistant Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Outreach Director, PNASH

Project abstract
Essential food system workers have been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic as seen in Yakima County, Washington (WA), a rural agricultural region with a large Latino population. Economic conditions and lost income caused by the pandemic have exacerbated existing inequities that food system workers experience, including food insecurity.

The aims of this project are to identify barriers and challenges to food security and support systems that food system workers and their families and communities in South Central WA, including Yakima County, are encountering due to COVID-19, and to identify solutions and highlight community assets to mitigate food insecurity effects resulting from the pandemic. We will interview food system workers to learn about how they are navigating support systems, including those relevant to food security. Stakeholder interviews will be conducted with groups involved in producing and distributing food resources in South Central WA to collect information on what is and is not working in regards to food supports during the pandemic.

Interview findings will be presented at an interactive workshop with project collaborators and stakeholders with the goal of translating research results to action items. Recommendations for community-driven solutions that overcome barriers to food security will be solicited and disseminated to state and local government agencies, legislators, and key decision-makers. Solutions may include short-, medium-, and long-term strategies that enhance community resilience, promote food sovereignty, reduce food security inequities that are exacerbated by disasters such as the coronavirus pandemic, and are generalizable beyond South Central WA.

Challenges, Efficacy, and Opportunities of Distance Learning for Low-Income Students of Color

Arzoo Osanloo, Associate Professor, Department of Law, Societies & Justice, College of Arts & Sciences
Taylor Harrell, Director of Learning and Evaluation, Metropolitan Area Action Committee on Anti-Poverty (MAAC)
Cristian Capotescu, Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar, UW Simpson Center for the Humanities

Project abstract
This research study between the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty (MAAC) and UW scholars investigates the engagement of low-income youth of color with distance learning during the pandemic. We seek to better understand what factors support or inhibit distance learning for such students. We ask: Can distance learning bridge the challenges for disadvantaged high-school students in the current crisis and offer equitable learning formats? Will the sudden move to distance learning raise new education equity concerns that require immediate redress?

This research project will focus on MAAC Community Charter School (MCCS), a high school in San Diego, in which 78% of its population are students of color who reside in low-income households. MCCS will conduct all of its fall semester classes online, thereby making it an ideal case study to investigate the effects of distance education on disadvantaged students.

This study has three goals: 1) to describe the societal challenges that low-income youth of color face during the pandemic, 2) analyze the efficacy of distance learning and scrutinize its limitations for educational attainment, and 3) explore how the pandemic has magnified existing educational inequities centered around class, gender, and race.

This project will serve as a pilot study for a broader research initiative generating best-practices recommendations, tailored curriculums, and intervention strategies that can support local schools, non-profits, and other stakeholders in redressing the growing educational challenges of marginalized student populations.

Life Events and Difficulties of Khmer American Elders and Youth Affected by COVID-19

Jenna Grant, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts & Sciences
Thyda Ros, Director, Khmer Community of Seattle King County

Project abstract
This project seeks to understand and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the daily lives of Khmer elders and youth in King County, and to collect exploratory data on the interrelated problems of isolation, neglect, and intergenerational conflict. Khmer Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and the pandemic has magnified socioeconomic obstacles to health equity. Furthermore, relationships between Khmer youth and elders in shared households are strained by intergenerational cultural dissonance, an issue that requires attention in light of the prolonged quarantine.

Conceived and developed by Thyda Ros at the Khmer Community of Seattle-King County (KCSKC) and Jenna Grant in the UW Department of Anthropology, this project integrates a research component to ongoing emergency pandemic relief. Working from a conceptualization of health in which community belonging and generational interdependence are central, we use open-ended interviews to understand the impact of daily struggles of elders and youth on isolation, neglect, and intergenerational conflict.

Our specific aims are to assess: 1) elders’ needs for COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related emergency planning, and 2) life events and difficulties of elders living alone and elders and youth living in multi-generational households. Findings will be shared with community partners doing COVID-19 relief, and inform the KCSKC Senior Virtual Village project with Khmer elders. The project also trains a Khmer American UW MPH student and a community organization in methods of health equity research led by and accountable to the needs of the Khmer American community.

Understanding and Addressing Barriers to COVID-19 Testing in the Somali Community in King County, WA: A Community-Driven Strategy

Keshet Ronen, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Global Health, Schools of Public Health and Medicine
Ahmed Ali, Executive Director, Somali Health Board
Farah Mohamed, Board Vice-President, Somali Health Board
Anisa Ibrahim, Board President, Somali Health Board; Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Harborview Pediatric Clinic Medical Director
Asiya Ahmed, Undergraduate student, Medical Anthropology and Global Health, College of Arts & Sciences
Kathleen West, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Global Health, Schools of Public Health and Medicine, and Research Scientist, Department of Bioethics & Humanities, School of Medicine

Project abstract
Marked disparities in COVID-19 incidence and hospital admissions based on race and immigration status have been well-documented across the US and have motivated national efforts to increase testing in underserved communities. Despite this priority, no public data have reported race- and immigration-status disaggregated data on access to testing in King County. However, preliminary data from the Somali Health Board (SHB), a Somali-led grassroots organization, suggest the King County Somali community experiences barriers to timely COVID-19 testing through existing testing channels at community health clinics.

In response, SHB has arranged a series of testing fairs in South King County, where the Somali community is concentrated, partnering with religious and community leaders to mobilize turnout. Attendance at testing fairs to date has been high, underscoring substantial unmet need for testing in this community, and presenting an opportunity to understand community testing needs and develop a sustainable strategy to meet them.

Leveraging SHB’s deep community roots and planned testing fairs, our mixed-methods, community-driven proposal seeks to (1) quantitatively determine prevalence and correlates of access to timely COVID-19 testing in the King County Somali community; and (2) gather perspectives of multiple stakeholders (community members, healthcare workers and policymakers) on community testing needs and how they may be integrated into King County’s testing strategy.

This project will result in a deeper understanding of facilitators and barriers of COVID-19 testing in the King County Somali community, and actionable recommendations to support testing in this heavily impacted community, improve health equity, and support local epidemic control.

Heritage Sites as Healing and Health Promotion Spaces for Black Communities During and Beyond COVID-19

Ralina Joseph, Professor, Department of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences, and Director, Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity
LaNesha DeBardelaben, Executive Director, Northwest African American Museum
Jody Early, Associate Professor, School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Washington, Bothell
Carmen Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences and Associate Director, Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity

Project abstract
COVID-19 infection and morbidity rates clearly underscore racial health disparities; understanding the mental health needs of marginalized populations is vital for community resilience during and beyond the pandemic. This rapid response project centers the mental health of Black Seattle residents during the
COVID-19 pandemic and explores how healing spaces can mitigate the compounding impacts of racism and racial health disparities.

In collaboration with Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), our interdisciplinary team will conduct a community needs assessment through a dialogue program that brings together scholars with community members to create greater connections and spaces of healing and strength. This research is an extension of the UW Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity’s Interrupting Privilege program, a community engaged, dialogue program that centers on radical listening to conduct action-oriented research that interrupts structures of power. Semi-structured dialogues between community members about their experiences and mental health needs during the pandemic will be documented, produced, and disseminated. These dialogues will inform NAAM’s efforts to provide holistic support to the Black community as a trusted and respected heritage site.

Our aims are thus twofold: 1) To understand the disproportionate mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Black communities in Seattle in the current moment; and 2) To identify how cultural heritage sites (e.g., museums and community organizations) can serve as spaces of healing and health promotion.

Healing Heart and Soul: Decreasing COVID-19 Perinatal Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities through Home-Based Maternal Self-Monitoring and Self-Reporting of Blood Pressure, Stress and Depression

James Pfeiffer, Professor, Department of Global Health, Schools of Public Health and Medicine
Yvonne Griffin, Director of Midwifery, Neighborcare Health
Rachel Chapman, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts & Sciences
Amelia Gavin, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

Project abstract
We seek to understand and reverse COVID-19 pandemic-related racial/ethnic health disparities by mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on maternal reproductive and mental health in under-served communities through home-based self-monitoring and self-reporting of blood pressure (BP), stress and depression. Because low-income and women of color are routinely denied health insurance and living wages, and subsidized insurance rarely reimburses BP cuffs, preventable pre-eclampsia causes excess maternal/infant morbidity and mortality in these populations. Black women are more likely than other women to develop pre-eclampsia and have more severe complications.

In Seattle/King County, COVID-19 prevention measures reduced face-to-face perinatal/wellness visits and halted childbirth education classes. Consequently, perinatal BP monitoring for women in already underserved communities has suffered significantly. Anecdotal reports from essential care-providers, neighbors and family of women in hardest-hit communities, suggest COVID-related loss of jobs, income, childcare, schooling, vital resources, has increased household conflict including intimate partner violence, social isolation, stress and depression. Because these topics may be taboo beyond family, BP monitoring offers an accepted point of entry for social/emotional health screening.

We propose a feasibility study providing BP monitoring kits, lay self-screening stress and depression tools, training and outreach to all eligible pregnant women (estimated 100-150) seeking care at four NeighborCare Health Clinics. Study objectives include: 1) increasing perinatal clinic/patient points of contact for critical health monitoring, treatment and referrals; 2) decreasing barriers to reporting and treating maternal hypertension and debilitating sequelae of stress and depression; 3) normalizing social/emotional health-seeking alongside biological health monitoring as best perinatal care practice during COVID-19.

Assessing the Nature, Extent of, and Variation in the Housing Insecurity of Low-Income Tenants of Color During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel Fyall, Assistant Professor, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance
Violet Lavatai, Co-Executive Director, Tenants Union of Washington State
Matthew Fowle, PhD Student, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Project abstract
Eviction moratoria, rent freezes, and increases in unemployment insurance payments have likely helped prevent large-scale displacement of many low-income renters of color during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even if policies such as eviction moratoria continue to be extended, they are highly porous for low-income renters of color. Legislative loopholes exploited by landlords, relatively weak bargaining positions of renters of color, a shortage of rental assistance, and distrust of government law enforcement agencies combined with pervasive racial discrimination mean low-income renters of color face a unique set of housing hardships.

This project aims to answer: What is the nature and extent of housing-related hardships experienced by low-income renters of color in Washington State during the COVID-19 pandemic? It will explore tenants’ efforts to secure and maintain housing, perceptions of landlord compliance with eviction moratoria and rent freezes, and concerns about entering homelessness. In doing so, the project will uncover the role of racial/ethnic identity and community of residence in shaping the variation in racial housing inequality amidst a pandemic and its subsequent implications for population health equity.

In partnership with the Tenants Union of Washington State (TU), this mixed methods study consists of 1) a survey of low-income tenants, 2) semi-structured interviews, and 3) quantitative analyses of client administrative data collected by the TU. Findings will be used by the TU to help reallocate resources to better serve low-income tenants of color and aid efforts in advocating for legislation that specifically meets the expressed needs of low-income renters of color.

COVID-19 and Civil Domestic Violence Protection Orders in King County: Implications for Population Health and Justice Equity

Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health
Kimberly A. Morrill, Lead Legal Advocate, New Beginnings
Deirdre Bowen, Associate Professor of Law, Seattle University
David Martin, Domestic Violence Unit Supervisor, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Alexandra Burton, Domestic Violence Staff Attorney, Eastside Legal Assistance Program
Judy Lin, Senior Managing Attorney, Family Law Pro Bono Programs, King County Bar Association
Adrian Dominguez, Director of Research and Epidemiology, Urban Indian Health Institute
Avanti Adhia, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine
Megan Moore, Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Kimberly Dalve, Doctoral Student, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health

Project abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has been disproportionately impacting domestic violence (DV) survivors of color. Many DV survivors of color have few options seeking help when staying home with their abusive partner. Identifying the needs of DV survivors of color during the pandemic and informing strategies that address those is a justice imperative toward promoting population health equity. DV protection order (DVPO) is an order of the Court granting a survivor of DV protection from their abuser.

The most rigorously conducted studies, including in Seattle/King County, have found DVPOs to be strongly protective of DV recidivism. Yet, evidence shows that low-income and marginalized survivors of color disproportionally present in the criminal justice system. There is a significant need to preserve and enhance access to the courts and relief of DVPOs among survivors of color during the pandemic and beyond.

We will conduct a study in King County to compare the rate of civil domestic violence legal filings and their adjudication trajectory before and during the pandemic, stratified by survivor’s race/ethnicity, gender, age, and socioeconomic status. We will also characterize programmatic and systemic adaptations implemented during the pandemic intended to increase access to civil legal services among domestic violence survivors of color. We will use a race and social justice analysis to propose approaches that sustain adaptations with positive impact in the longer term and develop a roadmap for capturing data elements needed to identify gaps in access to civil legal services among domestic violence survivors of color before and during the pandemic.

Health and Human Rights in Immigrant Detention: A Case Study of the Northwest Detention Center

Angelina Godoy, Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights, Jackson School of International Studies, College of Arts & Sciences and Director, UW Center for Human Rights
Maru Mora Villalpando, Founder, La Resistencia

Project abstract
The UW Center for Human Rights proposes to conduct a study, designed and executed in collaboration with leaders in the community of migrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, and their community advocates outside the facility. The study will examine human rights conditions in the NWDC, specifically focusing on concerns arising in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the health inequities it magnifies.

The research will draw on detainee accounts as well as records obtained through FOIA and local public record requests, in keeping with UWCHR’s established area of expertise. Researchers will compile and review detainee accounts of their experiences as the facility manages the COIVD-19 outbreak within its walls; examine medical records to evaluate the effectiveness of care provided at the facility, for both COVID-19 and other health conditions; analyze records of facility transfers to evaluate ICE and the NWDC’s role as a possible vector in the spread of the pandemic; and interview state and local public health authorities to better understand the regulatory framework in which the facility operates during a pandemic.

This research will culminate in the publication of a report to be shared with community partners and the Washington state legislature in January 2021.