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The Contagion Next Time$
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Sandro Galea

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9780197576427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197576427.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

An Unhealthy Country

An Unhealthy Country

(p.25) 2 An Unhealthy Country
The Contagion Next Time

Sandro Galea

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the health divides in the United States, which unfold along economic, racial, and ethnic lines. These health divides reflect a core paradox of modernity—a world that is simultaneously far healthier than it has ever been and far less healthy than it could be. By bringing health inequalities to the surface, COVID-19 complicates the narrative of progress. Again and again in the US, one sees people sicken and die not just from the disease, but from a status quo which significantly increased their chance of catching the contagion or developing a more serious case of it. Indeed, it soon became clear that Black populations were significantly likelier to suffer from the virus than whites. Being owned as property, then being subject to generations of Jim Crow laws and the denial of full social and political rights, created for the Black community a level of disadvantage constituting a foundational flaw in the overall health of the country. If any good came from COVID-19, it was that the pandemic shattered the idea that the poor health faced by marginalized communities is merely the problem of those communities and that it is not fundamentally a product of the health inequities.

Keywords:   health divides, United States, economic divide, racial divide, ethnic divide, health inequalities, COVID-19, status quo, Black community, marginalized communities

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