Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration

Racism, Health & COVID-19

July 2020, Population Health Spotlight

Racism, Health & COVID-19

Communities of color have experienced significant disparities in health outcomes from COVID-19, as well as barriers to accessing testing. Predominantly white communities have had access to more testing sites than communities that are predominantly made up of Black and Latinx residents. An analysis by the Surgo Foundation found that nearly two-thirds of rural counties have no testing sites, and 35% of rural Black Americans live in testing deserts.

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities and the protests against police brutality have led to widespread calls to acknowledge systemic racism as a public health crisis. Many organizations and communities are responding by placing an emphasis on addressing structural racism and health inequities.

  • Anthem and the Anthem Foundation have pledged $50 million over five years, aimed at advancing racial injustice, strengthening communities and addressing health inequities.
  • In Florida, GuideWell launched the Equity Alliance, an initiative focused on addressing systemic racism and the resulting health disparities for Black Americans. Guidewell, Florida Blue and its foundation also announced $25 million in investments over five years to organizations focused on diversity, inclusion and health equity.
  • In Arkansas, a grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas will support community health navigators and COVID-19-related outreach in the Hispanic and Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas.

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Seniors, Nursing Homes and COVID-19

Older adults are at the highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Among the elderly, deaths from the virus are concentrated among those living in long-term care facilities. The devastating outbreaks in nursing homes raise questions about the future of long-term care.

Disparities in COVID-19’s impact persist outside nursing homes, including the 1.6 million older adults in low-income housing who have been overlooked and live in fear of COVID infection

The Pandemic's Impact on Maternal & Reproductive Health

Pregnant people may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are facing increased challenges during a pandemic. Social distancing and the disruption caused by the pandemic have created physical and economic barriers to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services.

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COVID-19 & Social Determinants of Health

COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on the importance of addressing the social determinants of health. A recent analysis identified social deprivation – including a lack of access to food, medicine, employment and transportation – as a leading COVID-19 risk factor.

Communities of color have experienced significant disparities in health outcomes from COVID-19, as well as barriers to accessing testing.