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 month'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.
Political Determinants of Health (PDOH): The political determinants of health are the norms, systems of power, policies, and practices that arise from political interaction across all sectors that affect population health.  Political systems at all levels of governance affect health by influencing institutions, processes, interests, and ideological positions.
Understanding how political events and policy changes affect population health requires us to understand the impact of PDOH on people’s lived experience. An example is the highly politicized 2017 travel ban. A recent study of births in New York City showed an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries that were listed in the travel ban. Applying a PDOH and health equity lens to the COVID-19 pandemic helps us to see that, while we are all challenged by this time, political change has a ripple effect on population health. Exploring political determinants can help identify and address policies that have a disproportionate impact on the health of specific populations and can inform a health equity in all policies approach.
 Montoya-Williams D, Fuentes-Afflick E. Political Determinants of Population Health. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(7):e197063. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.7063
 Krieger N, Huynh M, Li W, Waterman PD, Van Wye G. Severe sociopolitical stressors and preterm births in New York City: 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2017. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2018;72(12):1147-1152. doi:10.1136/jech-2018-211077
(LOB= Legislative Office Building)
The official legislative session for CT has ended for 2020. The CT General Assembly could choose to meet for a special session before January 2021, but there is no definitive news on this as yet.
On April 29, Health Equity Solutions and 12 partner organizations sent 2 letters to Governor Lamont. One asked that the state create a COVID-19 Data Dashboard, as several other states have done. This would provide decision makers with accessible, up-to-date information and allow for course correction of pandemic response efforts. The other letter asked that the Governor appoint a COVID-19 Equity Task Force to ensure that efforts to address the pandemic do not unintentionally exacerbate disparities.
We continue to track the COVID-19 data released by CT’s Department of Public Health and note that disparities in rates of cases and deaths per 100,000 people have grown as COVID-19 has spread. As the state begins to reopen and some provisions of executive orders begin to expire, we will continue to track and keep you informed of the pandemic’s impact on health equity in CT.
Health Equity Solutions continues to work to center equity in the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Our community assessment survey continues and is now open in English, Spanish, and French Creole. Please take the survey as often as you have ideas to share. The results are shared on a regular basis with policymakers and are posted here for public use.
This month, the HES team took a different approach to our book club by committing to a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge created by Debby Irving. The challenge aims to promote greater “understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity” through daily engagement with reading materials, music, and videos/documentaries.
HES Executive Director, Tekisha Dwan Everette, curated materials provided on Debby Irving’s website into a 21-day schedule that provides material for collective reflection. The challenge asks participants to consider ideas and themes, encourages engagement with others, provides inspiration, and suggests ways to put awareness into action. To engender habitual reflection, the HES team has been logging our progress on a tracking sheet and discussing our experiences, observations, and insights.
Overall, this challenge has been an opportunity for the HES team to see beyond our daily work and has served as a reminder that the journey to equity requires us to continually learn, question, and dialogue with each other.