Office of Health Equity to discuss health disparities  in New Hampshire on Webinar this week
Kamala Harris: A Tireless Champion For Health Care 

COVID-19 health disparities in New Hampshire

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Concord, NH —Today, state health officials and public health experts joined community members, as well as Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce members, to discuss how the COVID-19 health crisis has unmasked health disparities in New Hampshire. The Webinar looked at current data showing that people of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in New Hampshire, as in the rest of the country. And the participants linked the causes of these disparities to economic inequality, generating potential solutions for an equitable recovery.


Screen Shot 2020-08-06 at 2.49.53 PMIn New Hampshire and across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting communities and subpopulations in different ways. During the webinar, representatives from the New Hampshire Office of Health Equity (OHE), the Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), and the Brandeis Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) shared information on the historical and social drivers of inequities, how these inequities may be evidenced in the data, and what we can do to build just and welcoming communities. The event was organized by Protect Our Care NH, with support from Granite State Progress.


The problem of health disparities is not new, and their consequences are deadly.  What is happening in New Hampshire mirrors what is happening across America:  Of the 3+ million Americans who cannot afford health insurance, more than half are from communities of color.  Today, one in every 1,450 Black Americans has died from COVID-19—a rate more than twice that of White Americans.


Dr. Trinidad Tellez, Director of the Office of Health Equity, at the NH Dept. of Health and Human Services, offered following:  “The COVID-19 pandemic is simply unmasking the longstanding underlying structural and systemic inequities that impact the conditions of peoples’ lives and manifest as cumulative and disproportionate worse health outcomes – evidence that everyone does not have a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.”


Kirsten Durzy, MPH, Evaluator at the Division of Public Health Services, NH DHHS, ”In the months and years to come, there will be many stories to tell about this pandemic, but the story about how communities of color have been disproportionately impacted will be one of the most important to tell. We cannot remain silent about the inequities that surround us. We must speak openly so that together, we can do better” 


Jessica Santos, PhD, Brandeis University’s Director of Community-Engaged Research at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, ”Instead of focusing on poverty as a driver of health disparities, let’s focus on the fact that the top 10% of Americans own three quarters of our nation’s wealth.  Our economy and society are structured to produce racial inequities in wealth and health.  COVID-19 has shown us that it is possible to dramatically restructure our society when needed.  Now it’s up to us to distribute resources and power in more equitable ways during NH’s economic recovery.”   


As the state rebuilds its economy with scant federal guidance and works to make New Hampshire a safe and welcoming place for all its residents, building the health of communities impacts the economic health of everyone, as well as the future economic vitality of the state.


According to Jayme Simoes, NH Chair for Protect Our Care, “Racial health disparities are linked to substantial annual economic losses, including health care expenditures and illness-related lost productivity. Addressing health disparities is increasingly important as our NH population becomes more diverse and as we struggle to overcome this pandemic. Although the Affordable Care Act led to large gains in coverage, communities of color in NH remain at a higher risk of being uninsured, lacking access to care, and experiencing worse health outcomes. That's not the New Hampshire I want to live in, and I know we can do much better. We can start by having this conversation, and then protect the ACA, and continue to strive to make NH a more welcoming, inclusive place.”