[Excerpt from Hartford Courant news feature by Emily Brindley, June 19, 2020]
In a report released Thursday, New Haven-based nonprofit DataHaven showed that the health disparities made more obvious by COVID-19 have existed since long before the pandemic began.
The report found “stark disparities in social equality” based on people’s race and socioeconomic status, among other factors. For instance, the report says that people born in wealthy towns have a higher life expectancy, by six years, than people born in the state’s “urban core.”
In recent weeks, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color, both in Connecticut and across the country. Because of this, dean of the Yale School of Public Health Sten Vermund said in a release that the report is “timely.”
“The documentation of how social inequalities drive adverse health care outcomes is stark, reminding us that social determinants of disease are the strongest drivers in Connecticut of who lives and who dies,” Vermund said.
DataHaven found measurable disparities, particularly based on race, beginning when children are in school and stretching through all phases of life. For instance, Black and Latino students have lower high school graduation rates, which impacts future earnings and increases the odds of unemployment, according to the report. And when people are facing financial insecurity, they’re less likely to have access to reliable food, housing and health care.
People of color are also more likely to experience housing discrimination and discrimination in health care settings, the report says.
The report doesn’t just present the data — it also includes a host of suggestions to reduce health disparities in Connecticut, primarily by taking down barriers to resources such as housing and food.
Mark Abraham, DataHaven’s executive director, said in a release that it’s crucial for the state to “take corrective action on the policies and practices that have led to the social inequities documented in this new report.”