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Published May 10, 2020 | Version v1.0.0
Masters Thesis Open

Emerging US Socioeconomic and Health Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Scoping Review

Ekeh, Odera


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged as a pandemic in late March 2020, with cases escalating in the US. Health disparities, caused by underlying low socioeconomic factors, are heightened in the current COVID-19 pandemic and response. These health disparities are especially evident for disenfranchised populations like low-income, Black and Hispanic, and incarcerated communities. This scoping review was conducted to provide an overview of the evidence that highlights the need for public health policies sensitive to socioeconomic and health disparities in the US. First, the review provides evidence suggesting that low-income earners, Blacks and Hispanics, and incarcerated populations are among those with the greatest risk for COVID-19 due to underlying disparities. Second, it contains a review of the research that suggests these populations also have a decreased ability to adhere to social-distancing directives. The results suggest that there is an increased burden and exposure to COVID-19 among the poor, Blacks and Hispanics and incarcerated, and that these populations are less able to follow social-distancing guidelines. Overall, new policies should challenge existing socioeconomic and health disparities by addressing economic security, housing security, criminal justice, and healthcare access. Therefore, the current COVID-19 pandemic response needs to be part of a larger effort to combat health and socioeconomic inequity in the US.


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March 31, 2023
March 31, 2023