COVID-19 in Chelsea: A Glance Into One of the Hardest Hit Cities 

and the Role of Intersecting Social Determinants of Health

GreenRoots has set out to tell Chelsea’s story—how and why our compounded social determinants of health led us to be impacted “first and worst” by COVID-19. This literature review highlights the myriad of inequities and social determinants that led to Chelsea’s COVID-19 devastation and which continue to impact our residents daily. 

The report highlights factors that affect community health pre-COVID, making residents more vulnerable, such as Chelsea’s high exposure to air contaminants like nitrogen oxide and particulate matter; high rates of pre-existing disease, particularly asthma, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; rampant food insecurity; and Chelsea’s severe lack of immune-boosting greenspace. 

A women opens the trunk of a car while balancing a box on her head.

And the report highlights factors that led to faster contagion and greater illness, such as 10% of Chelsea homes are overcrowded; 80% of Chelsea workers were deemed essential; and tens of thousands of immigrants disenrolled from healthcare programs due to immigration-related fears. With this synthesized data and our real-life experiences with COVID-19, we tell how our community’s social and economic risk factors shaped the pandemic’s impact on Chelsea.

A teen and a woman holding produce inside a food distribution center.

Our report confirms that, collectively, we must prioritize the continued health and well-being of our residents in Chelsea, and nationwide, systems must prioritize peoples’ lives over profits. We must do so by implementing policy decisions and investments that benefit, rather than harm, our residents’ health; and improve our social determinants of health. Gathering the existing research and data on Chelsea’s social determinants of health reiterates what Chelsea leaders have known for a long time: our diverse, frontline, environmental justice population was uniquely poised to be devastated by a public health or climate emergency

Read the Full Report/Executive Summary in your Preferred Language

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For more than 25 years, GreenRoots has restored acres of urban salt marsh, created new parks, increased public access to the waterfront and improved the water quality of Chelsea Creek.

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