April | 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic is top of mind for all of us. We hope you are staying safe and healthy, practicing the appropriate social distancing measures, and washing your hands! This week’s term is a very appropriate concept for understanding the current and long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on health equity/health inequity.

Health Disparities: Disparities focus on differences. Health disparities are defined as the difference in the burden of illness between one population group relative to another. A health disparities lens is rooted in comparison by looking at rates of disease between different groups. Among racial health disparities, “white” often serves as the default baseline or reference group. Conversations that solely focus on health disparities without contextualizing social and economic barriers that reflect broader historical and systemic oppression lead us to limit the ways we think about addressing these issues. For example, one unintended consequence is the attribution of poorer health outcomes to individual behaviors and choices of a specific race/ethnicity rather than larger structural obstacles such as racism.

Health disparities are valuable and compelling when paired with tangible actions. In Connecticut, there are many well-documented health disparities. Most recently reported is the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths among African Americans. Measuring health disparities provides an indicator of how well (or not well) we are doing in advancing health equity. Thus, quality health disparities data, especially grounded in historical context, provide critical details needed to understand our path to health equity.


(LOB= Legislative Office Building)

The Connecticut General Assembly has announced that they will not meet again before the official end of the 2020 legislative session. It is possible that a special session to consider specific bills will be held before the next legislative session begins in January 2021, but nothing is certain yet.


It has been a busy month for administrative advocacy at Health Equity Solutions:

The week of April 2, Connecticut celebrated the second annual Health Equity Week. In addition to social media messages shared by our partners, we worked with the UCONN Health Disparities Institute to co-author two op-eds on how the current crisis amplifies longstanding injustices and proposing policy solutions.

We continue to participate in coalitions, state-led workgroups, and conversations with partners and state agency staff to ensure a health equity lens is embedded in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.



In an effort to ensure that our policy recommendations are community-informed, Health Equity Solutions created a community assessment survey. With the goal of centering health equity in the state’s emergency response, we share the anonymous results with state policymakers on a regular basis. The survey has been sent to Health Equity Solutions’ email lists, disseminated by a number of partners, and shared on social media. HES staff also engages with grassroots partners on a regular basis and adds their input to the summary results. The survey is offered in English and will be available in two other languages soon. It can be taken more than once so that evolving needs can be captured. A summary of the results to date will be on our COVID-19 web page soon and updated regularly.

In order to ensure that all voices are spoken for in our state, please feel free to take the survey and/or share with your networks: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QN6BN3G  


This month, HES took a deep dive into articles on race, ethnicity, and COVID-19. We discussed three articles: one on the role of bias in testing and diagnosis rates; another on racial disparities in COVID-19 prevalence in CT;  and a third on what causes disparities in COVID-19 impact. While we agreed that the data was not new to any of us, we discussed two key issues in advocating for health equity during this pandemic.

First, we considered who is left out of the COVID-19 data, given the limited nature of testing at this time. While we cannot yet answer this question, we wondered if the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 infection and death would appear even more dramatic if the data were more complete. Our takeaway was that we want our efforts to be cognizant of how much is unknown in the midst of this crisis.

Second, we discussed how health equity is discussed in the media and how we can work to communicate injustice without making comparisons that may be misread to imply that one population is making better choices than another. We know this implication is both untrue and often assumed. This part of our discussion ended in two key takeaways: First, it is often more clear and helpful to cite disproportionate impact than disparities. For example, we can say that Black/African American residents of CT accounted for 15% of COVID-19 related deaths and 10% of the population rather than comparing deaths of people who identify as Black/African American to deaths of people who identify as white. Second, when time and space allow and data for more than one population is being shared, it is helpful to provide context and note that disparities are a symptom of larger structural inequities that create or limit opportunities for different communities in different ways.

Want to help us read more? See our desired list of reading material HERE


Health Equity Solutions
175 Main Street 3rd Floor | Hartford, Connecticut 06106
860.461.7637 | info@hesct.org

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