Dr. David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has recently co-authored “COVID-19 and Health Equity—A New Kind of “Herd Immunity”” in JAMA and has also been recently featured in “Column: Do murder charges in the Ahmaud Arbery killing signify a turning point for America? Not when other young black men still walk in his shoes.” in the Chicago Tribune.
“Segregation is a critical determinant of economic status, which is a strong predictor of variations in health,” says Drs. Williams and Lisa A. Cooper in the JAMA publication. “Economic status matters profoundly for reducing the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19]. Lower-income and minority workers are overrepresented among essential service workers who must work outside the home when shelter-in place-directives are given. Many must travel to work on buses and subways.”
“Segregation also adversely affects health because the concentration of poverty, poor-quality housing, and neighborhood environments leads to elevated exposure to chronic and acute psychosocial and environmental stressors. Exposure to interpersonal discrimination is also linked to chronic disease risk. Greater exposure to and clustering of stressors contributes to the earlier onset of multiple chronic conditions, greater severity of disease, and poorer survival for African American individuals than white persons.”