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30 September 2021
COVID-19 and Health Inequalities: Lessons for Pandemic Disasters Yet to Come
Since the publication of the Philadelphia Negro, persistent health and place-based disparities have been thoroughly documented in the United States. Those of lower social positions, defined by income, wealth, education, occupation; living in impoverished or medically underserved areas; or who belong to racial/ethic groups have poorer health outcomes. Pandemic disasters, such as COVID-19, underscore the profound effects of the health disparities among our most vulnerable populations in the United States due to persistent social inequalities. The historical legacy of disasters and their impact on vulnerable populations is well documented; however, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a unique set of challenges as long-standing health disparities and other social inequalities play out before our eyes when unsustainable health infrastructures and this pandemic collide. At this point, COVID-19 offers social scientists a reflection point for understanding and reimaging new equitable structures to address the needs of our society. Our social, spatial, and mobility patterns facilitate the pandemic's spread as more humans live in densely populated cities where social distancing is not enough to address the rapid transmission. This Special Issue seeks to present a collection of papers that advance our understanding of the structural forces that impact the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, and prevent the social change needed to build safer, healthier, and more resilient communities for the next natural or human-induced disaster.
We invite investigators to contribute original research (empirical and theoretical) that will further broader our understanding of the cultural, economic, political, and social factors that contribute to or may decrease, health inequalities during pandemic disasters such as COVID-19. Papers that include qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method are welcome, as are papers that discuss the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies. Potential topics include, but are not limited to papers that:
- emphasize an intersectional approach (e.g, race, gender, and social class) in advancing our understanding of COVID-19 and health disparities.
- highlight how COVID-19 and future pandemic disasters have implications for the individual- (e.g., discrimination), place- (e.g., urbanicity, rurality), and community-oriented (e.g., segregation) factors and their contribution to health equity in the United States.
- highlight how data can be used in preplanning for disasters so that communities are better able to realize healthier, more socially vibrant, and resilient communities.
- address mental health and substance use challenges in the wake of social isolation, mobility restrictions, stay-at-home orders, quarantines, social distance, lockdowns, uncertainty, fear, and misunderstanding regarding the virus.
- will emphasize how data modeling can be used to help understand and plan for disaster responses to ensure an equitable distribution of resources for future pandemic disasters.
- analyze the equitable distribution of vaccines, health services, and care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- illustrate how social determinants of health and social networks facilitate or reduce transmission of COVID-19.
- analyze the role of social messaging, COVID-19 health literacy, and COVID-19 risk communication in shaping better prepared communities.
- underscore how the initial shock of navigating a new post-COVID-1p reality negotiating the current and future risks posed by uncertainty, anxiety, and the redefinition of social norms impacts one's health, security, and livelihood.
- look forward, beyond the current post-normal shocks, to the :new normal," to facilitate ways that enhance organizational, individual, and community resilience.
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