Discussion: How the coronavirus crisis has exposed entrenched health inequities

The World
Updated on
A large crowd of people are shown with a women featured in the center of the photograph holding a sign that reads, racism kills, mentally. physically. globally.

The US Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance on preventing discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines announced Monday instruct health departments to ensure that racial and ethnic minority populations “are not subjected to excessive wait times, rejected for hospital admissions, or denied access to intensive care units compared to similarly situated non-minority individuals.” They also seek to ensure that the locations chosen for virus-testing sites are accessible to minority communities.

From the start, the novel coronavirus ravaged minority populations in the United States and around the globe, with communities of color recording infection and death numbers that far outstrip their percentage of the population.

Related discussion: How systemic racism intersects with the coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic has exposed entrenched health inequities propelled by social structures and influenced by factors ranging from housing conditions to transportation options to quality food access.

As part of our regular series discussing COVID-19, The World’s Elana Gordon moderated a conversation with Nancy Krieger from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Krieger recently co-authored an analysis further confirming the extent of disparities with Black Americans and Latinos carrying a disproportionate burden of years of potential life lost due to the pandemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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