CLEVELAND — One of the hardest-hit areas in Cleveland when it comes to deaths due to COVID is the Hough neighborhood.
“I can’t explain it because I took all of my shots and I can’t understand why nobody else wants to take theirs,” says 73-year-old Hough resident, James Eaton.
Eaton has lived in the area since 1967 and says although he and his circle of friends and family are all vaccinated, the numbers show there is some hesitancy there.
“They’ve got to be leery because people just aren’t taking it,” says Eaton. “I don’t understand why they won’t take it, but everybody has their own theory about not taking it.”
According to Cleveland’s COVID-19 dashboard, which breaks down cases and deaths by zip code, 44103 -- which is where Hough is -- has the highest deaths per capita. The zip code has a population of about 16,000 people and has had more than 3000 reported COVID cases with 46 deaths.
“It’s the result of generations of disinvestment,” says Cleveland City Councilmember Stephanie Howse.
Howse was elected to represent ward 7 this past November and says the numbers aren’t a huge surprise. She says it’s the same reason life expectancy in the neighborhood is only at 62 years of age, which comes down to years of neglect.
“It’s really just a compilation of understanding when you have disinvestment, people that have been intentionally cut out from opportunities,” says Howse. “When we look at the gap in health disparities, this is what results. This is what it looks like.”
Howse says not only is there mistrust within residents, but many have trouble with access and that’s something that needs fixed.
“Just the thing of scheduling an appointment to actually go somewhere, when you don’t have transportation, how do you do it,” asks Howse. “We absolutely have to make the support system from government more accessible and available to people where they are.”
Eaton says he tells everyone to get the shot, but words only go so far.
“If I tell them to take the shot and they refuse, that’s all I can do,” says Eaton. “I can’t make them do it, you can’t make nobody do nothing.”
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