In South King County this weekend, you can get a COVID-19 test for free, compliments of Beyoncé and her mom, Tina Knowles Lawson.
Across the nation, Black and brown communities are being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hispanic people have died at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than that of whites from COVID-19 in Washington than any other race. Hispanic, Black, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander people are getting the disease more than other groups and being hospitalized more often because of it. It's a trend that mirrors longstanding public health inequities.
In response, Knowles Lawson's #IDIDMYPART campaign and Beyoncé's BeyGood initiative are partnering with local community organizations to provide free testing and essential supplies to "combat... two diseases that are disproportionately ravaging the Black community; COVID-19 and racism," according to a statement from Knowles Lawson.
That was made possible because of Hamdi Mohamed, King County's immigrant and refugee policy advisor, who got in contact with #IDIDMYPart because she had been "hearing from community members and local community health boards about the unequal access to and the stigmas of COVID-19 testing."
Racial bias in the medical field has contributed to many Black people distrusting our healthcare system, Mohamed explained to The Stranger. It's evident in high maternal mortality rates for Black mothers, and in the disproportionate number of uninsured people in communities of color, and by other measures too, Mohamed said.
"It is undeniable that many black people distrust our healthcare system," Mohamed said. "That fear stems from historical events and black people experiencing medical professionals that don’t take a black person's pain seriously."
The COVID-19 crisis has only magnified all these existing issues.
One way to tackle that problem, Mohamed said, was getting in touch with #IDIDMYPART to "help normalize the conversation around COVID-19 testing and to shine a light on the institutional racism and historical inequity that we are witnessing."
The event this weekend will be drive-thru. There will be free testing. Community care packages, diapers, and toiletries will be given out for free.
“I could not be prouder and more elated that organizations in King County, Washington, stepped up in such a responsible way,” Knowles Lawson said in a statement.
The first day of the event, June 13, will be held at HealthPoint 955 Powell Ave SW in Renton from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The second day, June 14, will be held at SeaMar 31405 18th Ave S in Federal Way.
You can find more information on how to get tested for COVID-19 in King County here.