Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been inundated by numbers, from case counts to deaths, layoffs to business closures. A trio of Clark faculty — biology professors Nathan Ahlgren and Philip Bergmann and sociology professor Rosalie Torres Stone — used the mountain of available data to collaborate on an interdisciplinary research project, exploring the progress of the pandemic over time and how it has affected different demographic groups.
Their study, “Multiple measures of structural racism as predictors of U.S. county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths,” was published last month in Ethnic and Racial Studies.
The professors shared their findings during a session of last spring’s Inauguration Symposium, explaining that their research considered several predictors of COVID-19 in the U.S., including inequalities in housing, education, employment and earnings, health care access, and incarceration rates. The study, which showed clear racial disparities in how COVID-19 affected different groups, stressed the critical need to address health disparities by confronting structural racism on multiple fronts.
Among a range of factors, the study found that inequities in educational attainment and rate of incarceration were the strongest predictors of COVID-19 cases, with results varying in the four major regions of the U.S.
Last summer, Bergmann, Ahlgren, and Torres Stone — who became known to their students as the “COVID Posse” — were featured in a Worcester Magazine article about their ongoing research.
When the article was published, Ahlgren shared more about the work on Twitter.