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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, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

Politics, Power, and Money

Politics, Power, and Money

(p.98) 6 Politics, Power, and Money
The Contagion Next Time

Sandro Galea

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates how politics and power shape health outcomes, with special emphasis on how these forces intersect with economic inequality and the disproportionate burden of sickness experienced by low-income populations. During the spread of COVID-19, American political leadership faced a test of its ability to respond to sudden crisis. Rising to such a difficult occasion requires detailed plans for what to do in such a scenario, robust public health infrastructure, and leadership which takes decisive, data-informed action, listening to experts and communicating clearly and consistently with the public. Tragically, COVID-19 found the United States lacking in all these areas. Political leaders are in a position to mold public opinion, nudging the public mind towards new ways of thinking. The precise term for this is “shifting the Overton window.” By helping to mainstream a cavalier attitude towards COVID-19, the Trump administration shifted the Overton window towards greater acceptance of behaviors which create poorer health. The chapter then looks at the failure to adequately address race in the US. Among the factors that shape health, the area of race is particularly sensitive to political dynamics.

Keywords:   politics, power, health outcomes, economic inequality, COVID-19, American political leadership, United States, Overton window, Trump administration, race

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