Health News Roundup

Health equity and COVID-19

We hope this finds you safe and healthy. The current pandemic is exposing many inequities in our society and threatens to make existing disparities even worse. We are highlighting news stories that address these issues and emphasize viewing the current situation through an equity lens. As always, we welcome your feedback. Please email us with any questions, ideas or concerns at
Lisa Backus, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, March 20
As an ordained pastor, the Rev. Robyn Anderson has started preaching via the web on Sundays, sharing messages of hope and healing with members of Blackwell AME Zion Church as her parishioners deal with the economic and personal toll brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. As a licensed therapist and social worker and the director of the Ministerial Health Fellowship, Anderson is brainstorming ways to deal with the potential loss of health care due to lay-offs of congregants who are already at higher risk for diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and other chronic medical issues that make them more likely to have complications if they contract the coronavirus. “The church is a vital part of the community that people know will respond in a crisis,” Anderson said. “People of color are more likely to turn to the church, and they are more likely to have health disparities and high rates of diabetes, strokes and asthma.”
Christian Davenport, Aaron Gregg and Craig Timberg, The Washington Post, March 22
While many people across the country are hunkered down at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, armed with laptops and WiFi connections, millions more are required to show up at factories, hospitals and grocery stores to do their jobs. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted yet another fault line in America’s racial and socioeconomic divisions — those who can do their jobs from home and those who can’t.
Jaqueline Rabe Thomas, The Connecticut Mirror, March 23 
One hundred and twenty-six. That’s how many people typically call the Connecticut hotline each day to report they believe a child they know is being abused or neglected. Since the spread of COVID-19 and the instructions to socially distance – to stay home, out of sight from the teachers, principals, coaches, and doctors who are required to call the hotline if they suspect a child is being mistreated – the number of daily calls to the hotline has dropped to 39. Not only are dozens of potential abuse and neglect cases going unreported, the state Department of Children and Families has relegated 13,300 at-risk children who have been allowed to remain in their homes to remote monitoring, which means that crucial in-person supervision and services from private providers are suspended while the public health crisis persists.
Amanda Cuda and Tatiana Flowers, News Times March 22
A combination of domestic violence shelters reaching capacity, reduced services, and people isolated at home with abusive partners amid the coronavirus outbreak could make for a “dangerous” situation. “(Abusers) seek to isolate their partners from other people,” said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the agency that oversees Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence programs. “Unfortunately, the situation with coronavirus enhances their ability to do that.” Making the situation even more difficult is the outbreak has changed how many shelters in the state are operating. Jarmoc said all face-to-face assessments have been temporarily suspended, and all training sessions scheduled through April 30 have been postponed.
Joseph P. Williams, U.S. News & World Report, March 25
The documented health disparities between racial groups in the U.S. – including higher rates of chronic diseases and lower access to health care among blacks compared with whites – make some African Americans more vulnerable to COVID-19, experts warn. At the same time, more insidious problems, such as hidden biases white doctors have toward black patients, and black Americans’ historical mistrust of the medical system, could exacerbate an already bad situation, accelerating transmission of the virus in struggling communities.