The COVID-19 Response: The Vital Role of the Public Health Professional - Chapter 7 Equity and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19

Elsevier, The COVID-19 Response The Vital Role of the Public Health Professional 2023, Pages 101-118
Max Casciano, Sarah E. Scales, Jennifer A. Horney

The COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on racial and ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups. The direct inequities—higher risks for infection, hospitalization, and death among racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.—tell only part of the story. Social determinants of health, including access to and quality of housing, employment, education, and healthcare, also contributed to the inequitable impacts of COVID-19. This is particularly pronounced among groups like essential workers, parents of school age children, racial and ethnic minority populations, and rural populations, among others. While studied for many decades, public awareness and social momentum for understanding the ramifications of interpersonal and structural discrimination on health outcomes have further underscored the importance of this work in the context of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a stark example of the consequences of failing to adequately address long-standing social determinants and structural disparities related to the public's health.