Perhaps one of the biggest issues that has come to light during the COVID-19 pandemic is equity. The healthcare sector, private industry and nonprofits are now addressing equity in a variety of ways.
It was reported that life expectancy in the United States dropped by an average of 1.5 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the largest drop since World War II. But life expectancy for Hispanic and Black people in the US dropped by 3 and 2.9 years respectively, highlighting the disparities that exist within the US. According to the New York Times, these inequities are “a reflection of many factors, including the differences in overall health and available health care between white, Hispanic and Black people in the United States.”
To address disparities among vaccination rates in Massachusetts, Eastern Bank recently donated $2 million to support last mile vaccination efforts among populations with the highest incidences of COVID-19 cases, according to the Boston Business Journal.
While the Delta variant is a cause for concern, the pandemic is causing worry among health experts for non-COVID-19 related illness. National studies show that 1 in 5 adults delayed medical care for serious health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic with a majority of these individuals reporting negative health consequences related to the delay. Many providers are seeing massive declines in visit volume and preventative screenings including cancer screenings, depression screenings, weight and nutrition counseling, and high blood pressure control. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center president and CEO Manny Lopes discussed how these delays in care are causing the “Covid Cliff” on Boston 25.
The Boston Foundation recently released its report, Health Starts at Home, which evaluated how housing instability impacts overall health. In an interview with WBUR, Stefanie Shull said that findings from the report showed “housing stability meant less illness.” This included modest improvement in child health, reduced visits to the emergency room and reductions in anxiety and depression among caregivers.