Understanding COVID-19 in North Omaha: A Brief Community Assessment

The North Omaha Community Care Council (NOCCC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of health, education, faith-based, and local government agencies who work together to improve communication, access to affordable and quality health care, education, information, and disseminate helpful resources and services to the North Omaha community. Through a partnership with Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, University of Nebraska Medical Center-Center for Reducing Health Disparities and College of Nursing, and North Omaha Area Health (NOAH) Clinic, the NOCCC conducted a brief assessment to identify the needs and understand knowledge and behaviors related to COVID-19 in North Omaha.

The brief assessment consisted of questions about COVID-19 safety practices (e.g., wearing a mask), frequent source of information about COVID-19, unmet basic need during the pandemic, and demographic information. The assessment was administered at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church from September to November 2020 to North Omaha residents.We collected 582 assessments, only 18 away from our goal of 600 assessments. Most of the residents who completed the assessment were Black women, with a relatively even distribution across age categories (11.25% of residents in each age category). Below we highlight some of the most important findings:

    • Unemployment rate decreased from 58% in September to 46% in November. However, the percentage of North Omaha residents who lost their jobs due to the COVD-19 pandemic increased from 27% in September to 33% in November.
    • Groceries, health of family members, and personal health concerns were the top three stressors during the pandemic.
    • The number of North Omaha residents who reported wearing face coverings/masks daily increased from 89% in September to 95% in November. Social distancing also increased from 85% in September to 96% in November.

  • More than 40% of North Omaha residents believed they could get sick from COVID-19 from September to November. However, only residents in the age categories 40 to 49 years and 70 years and above expressed the highest level of COVID-19 infection concerns (79% for each age category).
  • Data on COVID-19 infection were not collected in September. However, a question was added in the October and November assessments in which 3% of the North Omaha residents reported they had COVID-19 in October. Of those 3%, approximately 1% reported being asymptomatic, and 2% reported being ill due to the virus. In November, 5% of residents reported contracting the virus. Among these residents, 1% reported being asymptomatic, and 4% reported being ill.
  • Most North Omaha residents reported their main source for information and education on COVID-19 coming from the news and their health care provider.

 

Call to Action

In light of these findings, there are several important actions that must take place. First, it is important that we leverage these types of data to mobilize various community residents, partners, and other entities to swiftly and equitably approach the contextual effects of COVID-19 in North Omaha. While we are working to vaccinate Nebraskans, it is important to think about how we can provide support for social factors such as food, housing, employment, health (physical and mental), and education, among others. We must continue to ensure community residents are properly educated about COVID-19, the vaccines, and the importance of continuing safety practices while our local government and non-government officials work to get Nebraskans fully vaccinated. It is also critical to understand how residents get their information and to use this knowledge to distribute information effectively. Lastly, ensuring that North Omaha residents have equitable access to the vaccine is also crucial to prevent more people being affected by COVID-19.

 

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