Policies to support a strong recovery

Create federal data standards to report complete health, education, and economic data by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, income group, and occupation.

Evaluating how to improve health and well-being begins with measuring health and well-being for all people and especially for populations affected by structural racism and stigma. Nearly a year after Ibram Kendi first highlighted that COVID-19 data were not available by race and ethnicity, age-specific data are still not available, especially for Native American people. Many federal surveys, including the Census Pulse survey on the COVID-19 pandemic, do not include data on sexual orientation or gender identity. Data on COVID-19 by occupation would provide critical information but are not available except from researchers who conduct retrospective studies. Establishing federal data standards would help inform policies to create a healthier, more equitable world.

Support low-income kids in making up for lost education.

Children in low-income families were more likely to fall behind in school during the pandemic as their families faced high unemployment, fear of eviction, food insecurity, and fear of COVID-19 exposure. Policies to support low-income children in making up for lost education through summer programs could help close the gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the kids aren’t behind for the rest of their lives.

Support low-income young adults in returning to school.

Many young adults from low-income households dropped out of school to help support their families financially or due to trouble accessing Internet. Supporting them in returning to school could improve their income, health, and well-being the rest of their lives.

Provide financial and social support to COVID-19 orphans.

There are high rates of excess mortality among essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to large racial and ethnic disparities in excess mortality during the pandemic. Many essential workers died in middle age, leaving behind children who may now face even greater risk of food and housing insecurity. Providing financial and social supports to COVID-19 orphans could make a big difference.

Provide health care and paid leave benefits to all workers.

Health insurance, paid sick leave, and paid parental leave are associated with better health for workers and their families. A new preprint led by the CUSP team shows that not having paid leave was associated with more than a 40% increase in food insufficiency among people who reported missing work due to COVID-19 illness. Excluding part-time workers and independent contractors from these benefits disproportionately affects part-time workers and increases health disparities. It is important for workers to earn sufficient wages as well as have that income protected when time away from work is required.