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The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health disparities among certain ethnic groups in the United States due to the virus’ disproportionate impact upon these populations. The communities in question have been plagued by systemic racism and poverty for years, resulting in a reduced ability to access resources like health care, education of high quality, employment opportunities, housing and nutrition. The lack of resources made it hard for people from low-resource backgrounds to get adequate medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who live in areas with a high concentration of low-income residents are also more likely to have jobs in the essential industries such as transportation or food service, where there is no paid sick time or protection at work. These workers are forced to choose between protecting their job and their health if they fall ill with the COVID-19. These workers may also be unable to receive high-quality medical services because of financial restrictions or language requirements. They are therefore less likely to seek the necessary treatment throughout this pandemic.
This underlying issue shows how social justice and equity are key components in creating an efficient public health response to COVID-19. In order to ensure that the implementation of any measures that could reduce COVID-19’s effects is equally beneficial for all, it is important that responses that aim at reducing its impact consider different population groups that may be adversely impacted. Prior to making public health decisions during the pandemic, it is crucial that structural inequality be addressed. Otherwise, this will result in further entrenchment of systems and hinder progress on eliminating all disease disparities.