The Detrimental Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice






The World Economic Forum reports the COVID-19 pandemic could push half a billion people in the world into poverty and financially impact millions more due to the 20% drop in income caused by the impending recession.1 This contagion is expected to exacerbate the inequities and disparities in health outcomes for older adults, persons in poor living environments, and residents of resource-poor rural communities across the United States. For the poor and disenfranchised, many social determinants of health (SDoH) are expected to worsen during the COVID-19 (the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and in its aftermath, namely, employment, housing, food, education, and health care. Public health professionals and policy makers need to proactively work with community partners to influence policies and other relevant sectors to ensure that health inequities do not intensify for the most vulnerable in our communities. The far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is already being felt among population subgroups as a function of poverty, whether it is due to structural racial injustice, an inability to treat underlying chronic conditions due to increased health care burden and clinic closures, patients' lack of access to critically needed health care, or a product of long-standing social injustices manifested mainly through food insecurity or job and income losses.