A study conducted by biology professors Nathan Ahlgren and Philip Bergmann and sociology professor Rosalie Torres Stone about the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized groups has been published in PLOS Global Public Health.
For “County-level societal predictors of COVID-19 cases and deaths changed through time in the United States: A longitudinal ecological study,” the professors mined information from vast amounts of publicly available data to explore the progress of the pandemic over time and how it has affected different demographic groups. The Clark researchers determined that relationships between racial/ethnic, demographic, health, and socio-economic factors and COVID-19 case and death rates changed over time in the U.S. For example, they found that counties with “higher Black, Native American, foreign-born elderly, high-density, and impoverished populations were particularly susceptible to infection and mortality from COVID-19 early in the pandemic.”
Approaching a pandemic through a “health equity lens to mitigate COVID-19 disparities is key,” the researchers note. “Enhancing access to testing in places where these groups are more likely to receive care, adopting more racially equitable triage in racially diverse areas, and addressing implicit biases in medical treatment would all help address these disparities.”
The first six months of a pandemic appear to be critical in addressing these issues, they wrote, and the lessons learned from COVID-19 should be applied to future pandemics. They also cite a correlation between the positive impact of education on health outcomes and mitigating health disparities.
The research of Ahlgren, Bergmann, and Torres Stone — who became known to their students as the “COVID Posse” — was featured in a Worcester Magazine article.