COVID-19 and systemic racism pandemics impact daily life for immigrant/refugees, Minneapolis, USA

Mary O. Hearst, Angela Ekwonye, Leso Munala, Halimo Ismail, Erika Kennedy, Heather Buesseler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism have a deleterious impact on the daily life experiences and health for populations of color. The experiences are compounded for immigrant/refugee communities that may have other barriers such as English language literacy or trauma. Cumulative stress due to everyday racism is harmful for health. Objectives: This study describes the impact of day-to-day lived experiences of Karen, Somali, and Latinx communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted over three weeks in September and October 2020 to understand the daily life experiences of Karen, Somali and Latinx adults drawn from community contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd. Interviewers were bilingual and from the communities they interviewed. Nine questions were asked, ranging from their knowledge of COVID-19, prevention practices, experiences during shelter-in-place, and the perceptions of the police murder of George Floyd. Qualitative analysis included transcript review, coding facilitated by Atlas.ti Cloud software, summaries, and validation by interviewers. Findings: Thirty-two adults were interviewed (Latinx = 10, Karen = 10, Somali = 12). One-third were in person per participant request and complying with COVID-19 precautions, and the remainder were remote. The average age recorded was 37 years (range 20–66 years), 43.8% males and 56.3% females. Respondents reported experiences of discrimination and systemic racism while engaging in daily life activities, including accessing foods and common goods, school, work, transportation, and healthcare, all of which were exacerbated by COVID-19 and the police murder of George Floyd. Conclusions: Immigrant/refugee communities of color in Minneapolis/St. Paul face daily experiences of racism that were compounded by the events of 2020. Discrimination and systemic racism contribute to the persistent health inequities among populations of color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107
JournalAnnals of global health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
GHR Innovative Scholars program and Academic Professional Development Committee funding through St. Catherine University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


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