COVID-19 has unmasked significant health disparities in the U.S.

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May 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked longstanding racial and ethnic health-related disparities, according to a new article published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation. The perspective essay notes higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths or positive cases among blacks, Hispanic/LatinX and Native Americans are being reported at local and national levels. Among the potential solutions, the writers note:

– Health care entities must collect and present COVID-19 data according to socio-demographic characteristics.
– COVID-19 testing must be easily available in all communities, and contact tracing must be relentless.
– Housing availability should be expanded. Facilities such as hotels and dorms should be used to quarantine symptomatic individuals to avoid spread to family members and neighbours. Suspension of foreclosures and evictions should occur.
– Incentives to provide free or discounted food delivery to low-income neighbourhoods and the elderly are necessary. Food banks will benefit from additional funding to reduce food insecurity.
– Due to the increased reliance on telemedicine and distance learning, policymakers should support broad access to computers and free internet for vulnerable communities.
– Employers should provide paid sick and quarantine leave to help reduce the risk of unwitting spread.

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