The Who of COVID-19

Portrait of Michelle Teti
Michelle Teti, DrPH, is the associate chair.
Enid Schatz, PhD, is the chair of the MU Department of Public Health.

Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, School of Health Professions faculty have been quick to help the public better understand not only the disease but also its social aspects, including race. The pandemic is highlighting and heightening disparities, say Enid Schatz, professor of public health, and Michelle Teti, an associate professor in the same department. 

For instance, say the health disparities experts, a study of 27 states reports that the COVID-19 death rate is four times higher among Black than white people. Similar findings are emerging among other groups that have experienced health disparities, including racial and ethnic minorities, undocumented immigrants, and the incarcerated.

Underlying health conditions that can make people more susceptible to COVID-19, including heart disease, diabetes and asthma, are already disproportionately prevalent in African American communities, they point out. What’s more, racial and ethnic health disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality also derive from social determinants of health, including income, working conditions, education, literacy, childhood experiences, housing, social support and access to health services. 

This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of MIZZOU alumni magazine.