What we should do about COVID-19 racial disparities in Iowa

The Des Moines Register published this op-ed written by HealthConnect Fellow Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association:

COVID-19 is causing Iowans to rethink our collective decisions and actions. Many are working from home, social distancing to protect our communities, and doing our best to keep up with school lessons for our kids. I am one of them, and it’s hard. But I recognize that I am privileged to be able to take these precautions.

COVID-19 is the perfect storm of inequities. People serving in occupations like meat processing, transit driving, and direct care can’t socially distance. Their jobs may be essential, but they are physically demanding, relatively low-paid, and often lack protections like paid sick leave and health insurance. Chronic stress and economic insecurity are well-documented causes of health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma — pre-existing conditions related to the most severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Iowa’s leaders must address racial disparities in their response to COVID-19. 

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