The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shines a harsh and unforgiving spotlight on the impacts of the social determinants of health. New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that people who are homeless or in congregate living facilities face additional challenges that can exacerbate the spread and severity of COVID-19. CDC data also indicates that the majority of people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 have an underlying condition such as hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, many of which are linked to food insecurity. Worsening structural barriers, such as limited access to transportation, are making it even more difficult for patients to receive timely care.
It is unsurprising then that analyses at federal and state levels are showing a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minorities.
In the midst of this, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) of the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would, over time, propel federal and state governments to play a bigger role in addressing these issues: The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2020 (H.R.6561).