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Follow the Data Podcast: Systemic Racism as a Public Health Issue

As more data about the impact of the pandemic becomes available, it is increasingly clear that the disease is affecting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in the U.S. the hardest.

While information on a person’s race and ethnicity is currently available for just over a third of the total deaths in the U.S., the data still highlights that Black Americans and other disadvantaged communities are experiencing infection and death rates that are disproportionately high compared to their share of the total population.

A recent New York Times story reported that Latino and Black Americans have been three times as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as their white neighbors, and have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as their white neighbors.

As the Director of The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity and the Director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Dr. Lisa Cooper and her team work to make health care institutions more equitable, communities more engaged, and health policies and practices more effective to eliminate disparities in health and health care in Baltimore, the United States, and around the world.

Dr. Cooper sat down with Dr. Jessica Leighton from our public health team to tell us more about what can be done to reduce the toll of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities, how the public health community is tackling systemic racism, and how listeners considering joining Black Lives Matter protests in their communities can protest safely.

 You can listen to the podcast and past episodes in the following ways:

From our coronavirus series:

  • On “Training an Army of Contact Tracers,” Dr. Emily Gurley, the infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who spearheaded the free online COVID-19 Contact Tracing course, sat down with Dr. Kelly Larson from our public health team to tell us more about what contact tracing really is and what makes a contact tracer effective.
  • Sarah Burd-Sharps, the Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety, joined us to tell us more about how historic precedent suggests that economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could contribute to a 20 to 30 percent increase in firearm suicides in the US this year – and precautions that gun owners can take to prevent unintentional shootings during the pandemic – on “The Pandemic’s Effect on Gun Violence.”
  • Tom Inglesby, the Director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, spoke with Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads our public health program, about how his team uses data, research, and expert analysis to advise decision makers about public health practices to mitigate the effects of epidemics and disasters on “The Data Behind the Pandemic.”
  • Food First Responders” features World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook in conversation with Bloomberg Philanthropies Senior Advisor Brynne Craig around how you can help people across the country that are in need of a meal or groceries.
  • Mayor Jan Vapaavuori joined Kelly Larson of our public health team to tell us about “How Helsinki, Finland is Responding to COVID-19.”
  • On “Lights, Camera…Action?” Michelle King, co-creator of “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight,” Brooke Kennedy, executive producer of “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight,” actress Christine Baranski, actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Joseph Benincasa, President and CEO of The Actors Fund, joined us for a conversation around how productions are transitioning to Zoom.
  • On “How Freetown, Sierra Leone is Responding to COVID-19,” Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr spoke with Dr. Kelly Henning about how global mayors are sharing information during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Rose Gill, a Principal at Bloomberg Associates, Steven Kobre, a Partner at Kobre + Kim, and Jerry DeLoach, the Head of the Cost Recovery team for the City of Atlanta, joined the podcast to discuss why it’s important for cities to maintain fiscal order so they can maximize federal aid funds during the coronavirus crisis on “The Cost of Recovery for Our Cities Part 2.”
  • Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, joined Dr. Jessica Leighton of our public health team to tell us more about how blood plasma has been used to treat infectious disease outbreaks in the past – and how donating your blood plasma could help your community – on “A Promising Treatment for COVID-19.”
  • On “Slowing the Spread of COVID-19 in Africa,” Amanda McClelland, the Senior Vice President of Prevent Epidemics and Resolve to Save Lives at Vital Strategies, joined Dr. Jennifer Ellis of our public health program for a conversation around why it’s important to prioritize slowing the spread of coronavirus in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Adam Freed, a Principal at Bloomberg Associates, Natasha Rogers, the Chief Operating Officer of the City of Newark, and Brad Gair, a Principal with Witt O’Brien’s, a national emergency management consultancy, joined the podcast to share how cities can engage with and get support from the state and federal governments on “The Cost of Recovery for Our Cities, Part 1.”
  • Janette Sadik-Khan, a Principal at Bloomberg Associates and Chair of NACTO, joined Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of NACTO, and Mark de la Vergne, the Chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit, to share how cities can provide safer, healthier transportation options for people going forward on “The Intersection of COVID-19 and Transportation.”
  • Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, sat down with Beth Blauer, executive director of Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins, for a discussion around how the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 interactive map and dashboard originated and what new features have been added on “Behind the Scenes of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Map.” This episode was borrowed from “Public Health on Call,” a podcast by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • Sharfstein also spoke with Dr. Jessica Leighton of our public health program about how COVID-19 is different from other recent outbreaks on “Responding to a Pandemic Crisis.”
  • On “How to Help Nonprofits Hit Hard By COVID-19,” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, sat down with Megan Sheekey, who leads our strategic partnerships work at Bloomberg Associates, to discuss the role of foundations in supporting social service and cultural organizations in New York City during the pandemic.
  • The first episode of our coronavirus series, “World War C – Us Against The Microbe” features Dr. Tom Frieden, the President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, and the former director of the CDC, and Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads the public health program at Bloomberg Philanthropies and the former Director of Epidemiology for the City of New York, in conversation about the global response to COVID-19.