Part 2: A Spotlight on Health Care Disparity During COVID-19

May 15, 2020

In part 2 of our interview, Devin English, assistant professor at Rutgers School of Health, joined Drug Topics® to discuss how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting minorities.

Drug Topics®: Hi, my name is Gabrielle Ientile with Drug Topics® and today we're talking to Dr Devin English, assistant professor at Rutgers School of Public Health. Dr. English research is focused on how forms of oppression lead to health inequalities in the United States, and today we're talking about how COVID-19 pandemic is affecting minorities. Dr English. Thanks so much for joining us today.

English: Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for focusing on this this important topic.

Drug Topics®: How you see the various roles within health care system addressing this issue. For public health officials and the President's administration, hospitals, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, what roles should they play in addressing this?

English: It’s good question. And I think that's - for our frontline health care workers, they're the ones who are going in every day. They’re risking their lives, they're doing absolutely all they can to address COVID-19. But because the inequities that we see in COVID-19 that are emerging in the data, because we know that those are linked to government policies that have systematically directed resources and opportunity away from black and latinx communities away from LGBTQIA communities. Because of this, the government should be responsible for addressing COVID-19 and these COVID-19 inequities that we see. And so a couple ways that I think that this can be done: first, no person should be responsible for deciding between the health of their family and feeding their family. Government funding should ensure that financial assistance is accessible, including to our immigrant communities who are so often left out of government relief programs and bailouts. There should also be a surge of testing and clinical care in black and latinx communities. These are the people who need it the most. These are the communities that are being hit the hardest by COVID-19. We should match our treatment and our care to where the need is the most. And in the longer term, the economic and public health impact of COVID-19 will go far beyond the next few months, and the impact will include not just health, but the economic resources of state and local governments, and including the federal government and so on down the line in the next couple months, when governments are making the decision on where to balance their budgets. It is incredibly important that we are not balancing budgets by cutting the programs that are supporting black and latinx communities, are supporting LGBTQIA communities, particularly those in densely populated and low resource neighborhoods. And I really believe that if we can invest government resources into bailing out corporations, then we should be able to invest in black and brown communities, we should be able to invest in LGBTQIA families and communities. And because these are the families and communities that we have failed over generations that the government has failed over generations.

Drug Topics®: Dr English, thank you so much for shedding light on this super important topic today. And stay safe out there.

English: Thank you so much for having me.

Editor’s note: This interview transcription has been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Check back to drugtopics.com for more expert interviews on COVID-19.