Welcome to Indcovid.
Incovid.com was created to look at relationships between the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it was causing health disparities in our community. Indcovid.com was a COVID-19 dashboard that not only presented the latest data on the pandemic, but one that investigated how a global pandemic affects specific groups of people who historically struggle to achieve positive health outcomes at the same rate as the majority. Click below to learn more about a global pandemic can exacerbate the underlying health disparities in American society.Learn about health disparities
The state of vaccinations in Indiana.
How does a Global Pandemic exacerbate the health disparities in Indiana and American society in general?
By Barnabas Obeng-Gyasi and Nathan LeRoy
The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for everyone involved. But, particular groups were hit harder than others. Certain demographics struggled to navigate the never before seen health crisis due to their financial position, their line of work, and their limited access to health care. Below we present data that shows how the the pandemic progressed through the State of Indiana starting March 1st of 2020 through June 20th of 2021. We are examining this data through the lens of health disparities and socal inequities. We want to show how it really wasn't the same COVID-19 pandemic for everyone.
What is a Health Disparity?
The Department of Health and Human Services Healthypeople2020.gov defines health equity as “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”2.
Race and ethnicity are often a focus when attempting to understand health disparities and achieve health equity. Race and ethnicity themselves are simply “socially constructed categories that have tangible effects on the lives of individuals who are defined by how one perceives one's self and how one is perceived by others.”3.Still, race and ethnicity serve an important role in understanding how large clusters of populations are being treated within the medical system. Racial and ethnic minorities suffer higher rates of “health disparities [which] take on many forms, including higher rates of chronic disease and premature death compared to the rates among whites.”4. The following data and graphs help illustrate the current disparity in Covid-19 cases numbers and death rates in Indiana.
In total Indiana saw 750,432 cases, 43,217 hopsitalizations, and 13,764 deaths. Not everyone was affected equally.
The Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)’s Health.gov defines a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”1.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique situation where can see throughout Indiana how a widespread disease is affecting populations that are historically subject to disparities in healthcare. The Department of Health and Human Services believes one of the actionable methods we can use to close these disparities is first measuring the “disparities in health status, health care, and the physical and social determinants of health-especially in relation to institutional policies and practices. HHS believes that if we hope to achieve health equity it would require measuring these changes.
Not only do minorities make up a disproportionate amount of cases, but they also have disproportionate outcomes.
On the surface, it's easy to see how those who are socially and economically disadvantaged might find themselves experiencing a disproportionately large portion of the COVID-19 cases in Indiana. Working more "essential jobs" and owning smaller/weaker economic safety nets puts minorities at a much greater risk for exposing themselves to SARS-CoV-2 and contracting the disease in their day to day life. Not only that, but lack of awareness and proper PPE pushes this risk even further.
This issue can be examined one level deeper, however. Not only do at-risk populations have a higher chance of contracting the disease, but once exposed, they have greater potential for experiencing poor outcomes and long-term complications. This can be seen easily when looking at Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This graph shows how, in Indiana, white adolescents make up 84.8% of the population while only accounting for 49% of MIS-C presentations in the clinic. In contrast, adolsecents who identify as black make up about 10% of the population while accounting for almost a quarter of all MIS-C cases in Indiana.
What is the Social Vulernability Index?
The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) uses U.S. Census data to determine the social vulnerability of every county and tract. CDC SVI ranks each county and tract on 15 social factors, including poverty, lack of vehicle access, and crowded housing, and groups them into four related themes:
- Housing Composition and Disability
- Minority Status and Language
- Housing and Transportation
- The fifteen individual variables
- The four themes
- Its overall position.
People were struggling to get access to healthcare when they needed it most
Access to healthcare is an important social determinant of health. It is influenced by factors such as insurance and geography (rural versus urban). In Indiana, the Healthy Indiana Plan is a state program to increase access to healthcare among low-income individuals. In the midst of this pandemic, evaluation of these programs is necessary to identify and address gaps.
A global pandemic not only puts your physical health at risk, but also your mental health.
During a global pandemic it is easy to focus all of our attention on our physical health. However, often forgotten is how our mental health may be affected by a global pandemic such as this. Fear and anxiety over a novel virus can cause a lot of overwhelming stress in both adults, adolescents and children. In addition, public health measures taken such as social distancing and isolation only further perpetuate these feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Taking care of one's mental health should be taken just as seriously as one's physical health in a time such as this.
Historically marginalized groups who are systematically experiencing greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group are also experiencing these problems with mental health care. In 2001 the Federal Collaborative for Health Disparities Research chose mental health disparity as one of four topics warranting its immediate national research attention. Unequal access to resources like remote therapy, support groups, and counseling perpetuates the onset of mental and subsequent physical health inequities as well.
Access to Food
The pandemic caused a large surge of unemployment and homelessness that disproportionately affected-already-vulnerable populations. Food banks have been overrun for several months across Indiana and the Country. Below is the Indiana Food Assistance Search Tool to find a local Food bank as well as a links to donate
Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy!
Recognize the symptoms:
One of the first steps to protecting yourself and others is recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms below, contact your healthcare provider right away or get tested.
- Fever or chills
- New loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
Wash Your Hands:
One of the first steps to protecting yourself and others is recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms below, contact your healthcare provider right away or get tested.The CDC states that keeping your hands clean is especially important to help prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Its especially important to wash:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients. You can also consult a healthcare provider through telehealth, if that is an option.
Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household. To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Wear a mask:
Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people.Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures.
This site was developed by Barnabas Obeng-Gyasi and Nathan LeRoy. Both graduates of Purdue University, Nathan now works for the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute as an Assistant Research Associate. Barnabas currently works as a Senior Research Assistant at Duke University and is preparing for medical school.
Our data is pulled from Indiana Data Hub's daily updated statistics on coronavirus. This is then run through the program ArcGIS to create map data. Analysis takes this data and frames it within a Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) which gives us a set of societal domains to display the statistics. This allows us to identify the potential for different race-based and socioeconomic disparities in communities in indiana.
In addition, we turn to the CDC for all guidance on public health and safety recommendations and procedures.
Note: No direct conclusions were drawn from the data simply the identification for areas of inequity and the visualization of the pandemic.