As COVID winds down, we see how various demographic groups were impacted by the virus and the policies that followed. The hardest-hit communities are now struggling to bounce back, facing uphill battles on top of existing challenges. Systemic inequalities cut and intersect across class, gender, and racial lines.
At the end of 2021, Brookings released a report reflecting a growing racial employment gap. The three-month average unemployment rate by race was as follows:
The report also displayed a disproportionate impact across gender lines, particularly on BIPOC women.
Rather than brushing these realities aside, we must address them head-on. What are the root causes of these disparities? How do we help communities that were disproportionately impacted by the problems of the past few years?
Let’s talk about the factors that determine health and economic outcomes in different communities, the impact of COVID, and what it will take to close the gaps.
Here are ten tips to help communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from simple to demanding and resource-intensive.
The most important community to care for is your own, so start there.
However, if you have time and resources to spare, there are plenty of great ways to reach out and help others in need who may not be in your immediate vicinity.
Every local community faces unique challenges based on geographic factors, economics, demographics, and even climate. Before you can leap into action and help people overcome the obstacles of COVID, first pinpoint the issues at hand and see the big picture.
How can you make a huge difference in the daily lives of others? What are the massive problems? Do the people need fresh food? Clean water? COVID tests? Prioritize your outreach efforts in one area, and they’ll be far more effective.
Healthcare workers were pushed to the brink during the COVID 19-response, and many hospitals and clinics still struggle to fill their rosters. This means shortages are frequent, demanding longer shifts and more stress.
Do what you can to support doctors, nurses, and everyone else on staff at your local medical institutions. Just sending over snacks or supplies can be a huge morale booster.
Thousands of small businesses went under as a result of COVID lockdown policies. While some were able to bounce back, others are still struggling.
Whether it’s the independent hardware store, the farmer’s market, or the tailor, you can “vote with your wallet” and help these business owners directly.
It might cost you more cash and time than big-box retailers, but it’s worth the extra effort.
Some of the biggest disparities illustrated by COVID came in educational outcomes. Kids in low-income households are less likely to have the resources and support to connect to class remotely, furthering existing learning gaps.
Money helps, but there’s no substitute for direct involvement with real students who need support. See if you can volunteer just a few hours a week to help kids read, write, do their math, and boost their self-esteem in the classroom.
Charity can be hit & miss depending on the institution and the level of trust within communities. We encourage everyone to research charities with more scrutiny and see where resources are going and the outcomes they bring about.
Good intentions aren’t enough when it comes to charitable work. Charities can be anything from mutual aid funds supporting public health in underserved communities to nonprofits dedicated to sustainability. Just be sure your chosen charity makes a positive difference in communities, rather than just enriching the organizers.
There will always be a need for food in rural areas or the inner city. It’s not just a matter of calories, however. Healthy nutrition with high nutritional content is what people need, rather than an endless supply of soda, candy, and chips.
Since food is the foundation of health, you can make a difference by donating healthy food or even making meals for needy people. People are better equipped to combat illnesses like COVID and live better lives with healthy bodies and minds.
There are bound to be different books and clothes lying around your house, so why not give them away to people who might need them most? Clean clothes can hugely impact people’s lives, especially kids navigating school and early life.
By donating books, you might inspire a young person to discover that reading is a passion or better equips them for education in general. These small things add up to big results over time.
It’s not the most comfortable experience, but just one blood donation session can save a life at little cost to you. The average session takes around an hour, and you can do so up to six times yearly.
Your blood can go a long way in fighting against COVID and other health conditions, so don’t shrug off this opportunity.
The government can only do so much to support people during hard times like COVID lockdowns, and institutions are spread thin regarding funding at a local and state level.
Faith-based organizations are there to step up where others can’t, living true to the teachings of their religions and helping people the best they can.
You don’t need to be a devout follower of religion to see that these organizations hugely benefit communities across the globe, COVID or otherwise.
With so many ways to get involved, the options can be overwhelming. That’s why working with a specific foundation or group can better use your time, energy, and cash should you choose to participate.
The Steady Together program is one initiative with a clear mission and principles that follow through with real results. Cash grants are just the beginning, with additional medical support and job connections helping people where they need it most.
The lesson: find the mission that speaks to you and go all-in.
COVID shed light on community health issues and the factors affecting these outcomes. Here are the biggest factors at hand and how communities affect health.
Your health is in your own hands, but discrimination can come into play when dealing with the medical system or seeking additional resources and support from governments and institutions.
While discriminatory practices are illegal, certain biases may still be held within our belief systems that need to be analyzed and eliminated. Working to improve equity is an ongoing project that applies everywhere, from health care and education to the workplace and beyond.
Healthcare is more than just supplies and vaccines. It’s also a matter of accessibility, speed, education, and best practices for administration and support.
All these elements come together in the healthcare equation; even one weak link in the chain can lead to negative outcomes. Finally, healthcare requires buy-in from the people and willingness to participate in the plan.
Many health issues stem from occupational hazards, pressures, and less-than-optimal working conditions. Jobs may be stressful or unsafe, leading workers to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking or drinking when off the clock.
Furthermore, lower-paying jobs with less security often come without insurance benefits, leaving families more vulnerable to emergencies without the support they need.
The link between health and education becomes clearer each year. Those who don’t finish high school are more likely to be overweight, suffer metabolic problems, and have difficulties with viruses like COVID.
It starts in the classroom, of course, but education also occurs within homes, communities, religious organizations, and other secular institutions. It would help if you addressed all of these elements, and a cultural shift must take place to make education a higher priority.
It’s no secret why wealthier families have better health outcomes. Money buys organic food, better insurance, advanced medications, procedures, and more.
On top of that, many high-earning jobs are now remotely, shielding workers from viruses like COVID that spread quickly in close-quarters environments.
Platforms like Steady aim to close wealth gaps and facilitate career advancement and a path to financial stability, by providing resources, insights, even extra cash rewards for those who need it most via services like Steady’s Income Boosters and emergency cash grants.
Life at home is critical for both kids and adults concerning health. What food is available each day? Is the environment calm or stressful? Are there concerns about emotional or physical safety?
When examining health on a societal level, we need to consider these material conditions and how they affect physical and mental well-being.
There’s no more hiding from the truth that COVID revealed: health is a major problem in the U.S., and there are disparities along class and racial lines.
It’s time to acknowledge these issues, set a plan, and follow through with action steps that make a difference. Lead by example by prioritizing your health, then take steps with Steady to steady your income and others to offer support in all key areas of life.