Study finds that pandemic worsened gun violence in Philadelphia

A study released by Temple University finds that the pandemic exacerbated Philadelphia's gun violence issues. 

The study, which looked at data dating back to Jan. 2016 through November 2020, found that instead of decreasing with containment measures such as stay-at-home-orders, firearm-injured patients increased at even higher rates to Temple University Hospital and other trauma centers around the city.

The study, which was led by Jessica H. Beard, MD, MPH, FACS, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Director of Trauma Research, sought to determine the magnitude of Philadelphia’s increase in firearm violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team used data from the Philadelphia Police registry of shooting victims and found that there were 7,159 individuals shot in the city during the 256 weeks included in the study, 

Prior to Philadelphia's first COVID-19-related quarantine measure, there was an average of 25 individuals shot per week.


After the measure was put in place on March 16, 2020, researchers found that the number of individuals shot increased to 46 on average.

A time-series analysis found that the increase in firearm violence was strongly associated with the enactment of COVID-19 containment policies. 

These findings indicate a significant and sustained increase in firearm violence in Philadelphia following enactment of COVID-19 containment policies.

"In the city of Philadelphia, shootings are often geographically concentrated in lower-income communities," Dr. Beard said. "These communities have not only been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus disease itself, but the pandemic and its associated policies have also exacerbated issues that were already present, including unemployment, poverty, structural racism and place-based economic disinvestment, which are empirically tied to firearm violence in Philadelphia."

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw acknowledged there was a correlation between peope staying at home and increased rates of violence in a press conference Tuesday. 

"We do know there are more people at home. We do know there are more people inside. We’ve seen a lot of connectivity with people who, either know each other who’ve been inside the homes, or they’re domestic-related, as well. So, whether they’re young people, or some of our older people, male, female or partners in a relationship, we do there’s some connectivity around that, as well," Outlaw stated. 

She then went on to explain that the Philadephia Police Department was working with partners to make sure that they were moving forward to increase awareness on this problem.

Gun violence in Philadelphia in 2021 is already off to a markedly worse start than it was in 2020. 

As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, the Philadelphia Police Department had reported 62 homicides in Philadelphia in the year 2021. That's up 55% over the same date in 2021, according to the department's website.

While 2020 became one of Philadelphia's deadliest years in decades, the city didn't reach 60 murders until Feb. 28 of last year. 


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