This editorial from public health, sociology, and demography experts outlines steps to address the tragic, but preventable inequities arising during the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to this set of experts (which includes Indiana University sociologist Dr. Elaine Hernandez), the following steps can help address the underlying social and economic conditions that have exacerbated inequities during the COVID-19 epidemic:
- Establish worker protections, including paid sick leave and livable wage laws, especially aimed toward helping vulnerable essential workers such as grocery, warehouse and care workers.
- Deploy uniform testing protocols allowing access irrespective of race, income, or insurance status. For example: community and drive-through testing sites are disproportionately located in higher-income, predominantly white communities, despite significantly higher infection risks and rates in low income black and Latino communities.
- Equalize health care access – reduce enrollment administrative burdens, and ensure that treatment protocols take into account that black, Latino, and low-income communities live in conditions that may lead them to be more likely to present with inequitable levels of health from their wealthier neighbors.
- Provide social and economic stability – including ensuring vulnerable populations have access to safe, stable housing that will facilitate their care and ability to practice safe social distancing.