(Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 19, 2020) – COVID-19 is exposing our nation’s longstanding social and political inequities, in race, class, gender, national origin and other factors. The coronavirus is hitting minority communities hardest, with disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos becoming infected or dying of COVID-19. Unless we work to mitigate these disparities, it will be more difficult to contain the pandemic. As psychological research shows, communities that work together to address the needs of all members can flatten the curve faster than communities fraught with division and distrust.
Psychological researchers, practitioners and educators can inform efforts to manage the psychological consequences of the pandemic—including fear, anxiety and isolation—as well as strategies to minimize social divisions that can worsen the spread of the virus. The American Psychological Association has laid out four priorities that can help:
- Standardize data collection and reporting. We know that some populations are at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus because some local health agencies track data by race, ethnicity and other factors. But these factors are not being reported nationally. This information is critical for identifying where resources are needed most.
- Expand economic and social supports, particularly for high-risk workers. The CARES Act extended cash assistance for low- and middle-income households. But going forward, further measures will likely be needed to prevent households from falling into poverty and not having enough money for food or housing. Future legislation must address vulnerable populations such as immigrants and those in the deepest poverty.
- Marginalize hate. News reports have documented numerous instances of racist and xenophobic intimidation of people of Asian descent, both in public and virtual spaces.
- Build trust and social cohesion. Psychologists’ research has shown that communities with a high level of trust and engagement around common challenges tend to have better overall health and resiliency after disasters.
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, with more than 121,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members. For more COVID-19 resources for professionals and the public, visit the APA COVID-19 information and resources.