Racial Health Disparities Exist, COVID-19 Just Makes It Clearer

Dr. M. Roy Wilson talks COVID-19’s impact on communities of color and Wayne State University’s response to the health crisis.

Mounting evidence has continued to show clear racial health disparities in America’s COVID-19 health crisis.

Black and brown communities across the country have been particularly hard hit by the virus. What accounts for these disparate outcomes and what can be done about it?

“There is some evidence that African Americans with symptoms have not been tested as frequently, I think that there is some implicit bias.”

Listen: Wayne State University President on racial health disparities in the COVID-19 health crisis. 


M. Roy Wilson, President of Wayne State University and former deputy director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities recently wrote an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press

Wilson says underlying health disparities have been going on in this country for a long time, well before the current crisis.

Social determinants are a major factor in these lopsided health outcomes says Wilson. In the current COVID-19 health crisis Wilson says implicit bias has played a key role in the health disparities we are seeing.

“There is some evidence that African Americans with symptoms have not been tested as frequently, I think that there is some implicit bias,” says Wilson. 

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

In his role as President of Wayne State University, Wilson says the institution is considering various measures to shore up the school’s budget. Wilson says he stopped short of announcing layoffs because the university doesn’t yet know the full financial cost imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Enrollment, says Wilson, will be a major determinant in Wayne State’s financial decision making. The school is also preparing for the possibility of remote learning continuing into the fall.

“We’re going to prepare as if we’re not going to be able to meet person-to-person [in the fall]. If we are able to, that would certainly be our preference,” says Wilson. 

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