Mitigating Inequities Caused or Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, health and social disparities exist that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 for marginalized communities. In January, the White House established a Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which last week released a comprehensive report with recommendations for mitigating inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future.

Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, who led the Task Force, spelled out the challenge in her letter accompanying the report. “We know the communities that are first to be forgotten, especially when resources are in short supply. COVID-19 made it clear that, in this country, a person’s zip code is a stronger driver of health than their genetic code. Inequity sickens our entire nation.”

This Task Force’s report provides a case for change. It includes proposed actions for the Biden-Harris administration to prioritize as well as outcomes to establish an ongoing vision for what the United States can accomplish. Those actions are:

  1. Invest in community-led solutions to address health equity
  2. Enforce a data ecosystem that promotes equity-driven decision making
  3. Increase accountability for health equity outcomes
  4. Invest in a representative health care workforce and increase equitable access to quality health care for all
  5. Lead and coordinate implementation of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force’s recommendations from a permanent health equity infrastructure in the White House

The CDC Foundation was pleased to provide support to the development of this report, and our team thanks all the health equity experts for the critical role they played in the Task Force by providing their perspectives on a diverse set of topics that informed the final report and recommendations. These individuals include Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH, FAAP; Daniel Dawes, JD; Juliet Choi, JD; Alicia Fernandez, MD; Camara Jones, MD, PhD; Nancy Krieger, PhD.; Larry Levitt, MPP; Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH; and Lisa Walke, MD, MSHA, MPH.

In addition, the Foundation appreciates the work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staff involved in the development of the report as well as Deloitte and Coforma, both of which the CDC Foundation engaged to assist HHS staff in supporting the Task Force.

Health equity remains a challenge during normal times as well as pandemics, but we can work together to find solutions and make progress as we strive to ensure everyone has an opportunity for health.



Turquoise Sidibe
Turquoise Sidibe, MPH, is the associate vice president of emergency response for the CDC Foundation.