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  • Srishti Gowda

Health inequities & COVID-19

Welcome back to my blog! 10 days ago would have been the 2020 Health Equity High School Summit. But as a result of the situation regarding COVID-19, it has been cancelled. And while it is disappointing that the event is not happening, it is interesting to learn about public health and health inequity in real time.


At last year's summit, we learned in one workshop how African American mothers were discriminated against at some hospitals during labor and delivery, greatly affecting their health.


Recently, it was discovered that although African Americans make up only 14% of our state, they account for 33% of Coronavirus cases and 40% of deaths. This discrepancy could be due to a variety of factors rooted in inequality. According to ProPublica, this includes unequal access to medical care, higher rates of underlying health conditions, and a high likelihood of working "essential" jobs, such as grocery store workers.


In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Governor Whitmer stated that the Coronavirus is "holding up a mirror to the United States of America" by proving the many inequities in health that exist in our country. She went on to state that "Right now, in the middle of this crisis, we have to do everything we can to educate, to support, and to protect all people, and focus on communities of color. But beyond this, we’ve got a lot of work as a nation to do to address those inequities that have been contributing to this horrible situation that we’re all confronting."



However, this not only occurring in Michigan. The diagram above from Johns Hopkins University proves that this health disparity is being shown in states all across the country.


Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, a family physician and epidemiologist expressed that African Americans "are getting infected more because they are exposed more, and once infected they're dying more because they have their bodies have born the burden of chronic disinvestment and active neglect of the community. It is because of structural racism, which puts us in the forward facing jobs so that we are exposed and less valued and don't have the protection that we need."


President Trump also acknowledged the issue during the White House's coronavirus news briefing on Tuesday: "We're actively engaging on the problem of increased impacts -- this is a real problem and it's showing up very strongly in our data -- on the African-American community," Trump said. "And we're doing everything in our power to address this challenge. It's a tremendous challenge. It's terrible."


Before it was cancelled, we planned on having workshops in Immigration & Health, Violence Prevention, Nutrition, Mental Health, and Climate Change/Environment, at the 2020 Health Equity Summit. However, I hope that the 2021 Health Equity Summit can focus more on the aftermath of the Coronavirus summit, how it has affected health inequities in our state and country, and really allow summit participants to understand the root of this problem.