The COVID-19 lockdowns in Philadelphia triggered a surge in gun violence in the city during the pandemic — and worsened poverty, unemployment, and racism, a new research study found.
The study was conducted by researchers at Temple University, and published by JAMA Network, was led by Dr. Jessica Beard, assistant professor of surgery and director of trauma research at Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
"It was in March actually that we saw a significant and sustained increase, nearly double of our violence in the City of Philadelphia," Beard told Philadelphia's ABC affiliate.
The researchers then used data from the city's police from January 2016 through Nov. 26, 2020.
"This research pretty empirically shows that the increase or the uptick in gun violence happened following the enactment of the containment policies," she told the news outlet.
The research also found the pandemic exacerbated longstanding issues like poverty, unemployment, and structural racism that are tied to violence.
"And one could imagine that policies that affect the social-economic status of people in the city are going to affect the poorest people in the city the most," Beard told the news outlet.
Erica Atwood, Democrat Mayor Jim Kenney's senior director for criminal justice and public safety, told the news outlet the study confirms what officials had suspected.
"It is affirming that we are looking at this issue of gun violence, of systemic oppression with the right lens," Atwood said, adding: "We are absolutely addressing disparities but we don't print money. We need support from the federal government.”
But one activist told the news outlet it's the city that needs to come up with a plan.
"If you went to the doctor and the doctor knew that you were terminally ill, his job is to keep you alive. What is the City of Philadelphia doing for its patients?" Tyriq Glasgow of Young Chances Foundation told the news outlet.
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