Health Equity and Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Brief Overview of the Federal Role [July 28, 2021] [open pdf - 1MB]
From the Introduction: "According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ''[h]ealth equity' means that everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.' The COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic is a catastrophic public health emergency, challenging responders not merely to minimize overall deaths and serious illnesses as best they can, but to assure that the burdens of this emergency are borne equitably across different segments of society. Inequities, or health disparities, may arise among different racial and ethnic groups, among those of different ages, and among those with preexisting illnesses. Disparities may also be seen across certain socio-demographic and environmental characteristics such as income, educational attainment, and place of residence. These latter factors are often referred to as social determinants of health. [...] Non-uniform application of social distancing and masking requirements, business closures, and vaccine prioritization schemes may have facilitated each jurisdiction's best approach to an equitable response. Anecdotal reports suggest that health disparities have persisted throughout the pandemic, though they have varied between jurisdictions and changed over time. This CRS Report presents (1) several definitions of potential disparity populations in general and emergency management contexts; (2) selected health disparities documented during the pandemic; (3) selected key federal laws and policies that address health equity in general and during the pandemic; and (4) selected issues involving federalism, disparities data, and competing priorities."
CRS Report for Congress, R46861
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/