BACKGROUND: In the United States, Black Americans are suffering from a significantly disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 . Going beyond mere epidemiological tallying, the potential for actual racial-justice interventions, including reparations payments, to ameliorate these disparities has not been adequately explored .
METHODS: We compared the COVID-19 time-varying R t curves of relatively disparate polities in terms of social equity (South Korea vs. Louisiana). Next, we considered a range of reproductive ratios to back-calculate the transmission rates b i ®j for 4 cells of the simplified next-generation matrix (from which R 0 is calculated for structured models) for the outbreak in Louisiana . Lastly, we considered the potential structural effects monetary payments as reparations for Black American descendants of persons enslaved in the U.S. would have had on pre-intervention b i ®j and consequently R 0 .
RESULTS: Once their respective epidemics begin to propagate, Louisiana displays R t values with an absolute difference of 1.3 to 2.5 compared to South Korea . It also takes Louisiana more than twice as long to bring R t below 1 . Reasoning through the consequences of increased equity via matrix transmission models, we demonstrate how the benefits of a successful reparations program (reflected in the ratio b b ®b / b w ®w) could reduce R 0 by 31 to 68% .
DISCUSSION: While there are compelling moral and historical arguments for racial-injustice interventions such as reparations, our study considers potential health benefits in the form of reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk . A restitutive program targeted towards Black individuals would not only decrease COVID-19 risk for recipients of the wealth redistribution; the mitigating effects would also be distributed across racial groups, benefiting the population at large.