The many aspects of vulnerability

During a global pandemic, the world is focused on health — but everything is health. The best medicines and technology are helpful, but social determinants define the true health of a population. The most vulnerable among us are even more vulnerable to the negative health, social, and economic impacts of our current crisis, and demand for support services is high. 

As the coronavirus spreads, our understanding of the impact on different communities has evolved. Two weeks ago, we expressed concern about those who can’t isolate at home because of housing insecurity, domestic violence, or other circumstances. Over time, more transparency and data has revealed the nuances of disparity; patterns vary by region, and every community’s needs are different. “Vulnerability” takes on new meaning every day; we already know race and ethnicity, age, employment, incarceration, and a number of other factors determine risk of exposure, access to care, and clinical outcomes. 

By its very nature, infectious disease affects everyone, but underresourced people often pay the highest cost. It’s in society’s best interest to swiftly address disparity and bring help to those at greatest risk. 

General resources

Housing and homelessness

Justice and incarceration

Domestic violence

Mental health

Drug and alcohol treatment

Elder care and assisted living

Family services

Food insecurity