[Excerpt from feature article by Justin Papp, June 24, 2020]
A new report by New Haven-based DataHaven highlights issues of inequity in the state as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, titled “Towards Health Equity in Connecticut,” was released this month and includes information on the coronavirus effect on a variety of populations and based on a series of factors that impact health outcomes.
“We basically wanted to be able to describe factors that affect health in Connecticut in a more granular way, a more nuanced way and a more specific way than what has been done before,” said Mark Abraham, executive director of the New Haven nonprofit. “We’re talking about how health is experienced in different communities around the state by geography, gender, race and sexual orientation, as well as other factors.”
DataHaven first prepared to release the study in February, just as the coronavirus pandemic was making its way into Connecticut, causing the report to be delayed and re-written.
The finalized report analyzes populations by demographic and geographic groups based on several factors, including education, economic stability, housing, nutrition and access to health care.
The report also breaks down all Connecticut municipalities into one of five categories — urban core, urban periphery, suburban, rural and wealthy — and compared outcomes for residents. Consistent with earlier reporting, it found that Black and Latino residents, especially those who live in urban environments, are more susceptible to negative health outcomes in general, the effects of which were exacerbated by the pandemic.
That disparity is no more visible in the report than when comparing the life expectancy of children born in wealthy towns with those born in urban core cities. Those born into more affluent surroundings can expect to live six years longer than their urban peers, despite in some cases living just miles apart.
“In the most prosperous parts of the state, sometimes the disparity is the largest,” Abraham said. “That kind of information can be useful because often towns will talk about how they’re doing on the whole. And towns might be extremely wealthy on the whole, but for white versus Black residents there might be dramatic economic differences.”
That trend can be witnessed in many parts of the state. But in separate data for Stamford and Greenwich, it is perhaps most evident, Abraham said.
According to the DataHaven study, the median income for Black and Latino residents is less than half of that for white and Asian residents. The poverty rate for Blacks and Latinos is 14 and 15 percent, respectively, compared with 5 percent for whites. Blacks and Latinos are nearly twice as likely as whites to experience severe housing costs burden. Eleven percent of Blacks and 24 percent of Latinos living in Stamford and Greenwich who were surveyed live without health insurance, compared with 4 percent of their white and 5 percent of Asian neighbors.
The inequities represented in those demographic findings, Abraham said, has each contributed to worse outcomes for the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic. In Connecticut, Blacks and Latinos have died at higher rates than white individuals, according to the report.
“All these factors interact with one another,” Abraham said. “So there has to be a holistic approach to addressing multiple needs at once.”