Diversity and Inclusion during the COVID-19 Crisis

The Duke University School of Medicine is committed to promoting our values of diversity and inclusion as we work together to combat the continuing coronavirus outbreak. We are sharing the following resources as a starting point for promoting discussion about bias, stigma, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

These topics and resources are a work in progress. We will update them on a regular basis as the situation evolves. Please visit on a regular basis for more information.

Why Acknowledging Our Bias is More Important Than Ever

Unconscious biases are stereotypes about certain groups of people based on their race, gender identity, social group, or other aspects of one's identity and/or life experiences. We all have biases, and they're more likely to affect our decisions when we're feeling pressure, time limits, fatigue or other stresses--all factors many of us are facing during this epidemic. Acknowledging these biases is the first step towards counteracting them. Read more about them, and what we can do to mitigate them, here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discuss the ways that the coronavirus is and isn't spread.

The APA shares information about the persuasive stigma and bias that are emerging from the COVID-19 epidemic and offer ways to counter them.

As this epidemic progresses, clinicians may be confronted with difficult decisions about scarce resources for life saving equipment. Duke University School of Medicine's Andrew Spector, MD, posits that acknowledging and mitigating biases is key to preventing harm and ensuring equitable treatment for racial/ethnic minorities and other vulnerable group

How COVID-19 is Amplifying Existing Health Disparities

The COVID-19 epidemic affects us all, but the disease has been especially harmful to people of color and other vulnerable populations, especially those who live in dense urban areas. As a group, people of color are more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus, and when they get infected, are more likely to die than their white counterparts. Previously existing social and cultural inequities rather than any biological differences between these populations, appear to be responsible for these differences. The resources below provide more information about these disparities and how some experts are trying to reduce them.

For marginalized populations who live with poverty, health inequities, and other burdens, the outbreak could be especially brutal. The American Association of Medical College discusses how can we step up to meet their needs.

Clyde W. Yancy, MD, summarizes the latest population data about African Americans and COVID-19, discusses the pre-existing disparities that are leading to higher rates of death and infection, and offers guidance about how to mitigate further harm.

Selwyn M. Vickers writes how the COVID-19 pandemic is radically exacerbating racial and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care in America, creating a crisis within a crisis.

Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, discusses how the limited available data are showing vast racial disparities in the epidemic, and discusses the faulty logic of laying the blame for these disparities on individual behavior.

Jamelle Bouie discusses how black susceptibility to infection and death in the coronavirus pandemic is due to systematic, race-based inequalities in the United States.

US News and World Report's Casey Leins reports on the emerging state-based data on how COVID is affecting individuals of different races.

The Lives and Livelihoods of Many in the LGBTQ Community Are at Risk During the COVID-19 Crisis

  • In addition to people of color, the LGBTQ+ community is also a marginalized population at greater risk than the general population for suffering from the COVID-19 epidemic. The Human Rights Campaign recently published a policy brief outlining these health and economic harms.

How Xenophobia, Racism, and Other "Isms" Are Re-Emerging During the Epidemic

As the COVID-19 epidemic spreads throughout the country, many Asian Americans and people of Asian descent have been subjected to insults, prejudice, and hostility because of the virus' origins in Wuhan, China. These attacks fit a pattern of hostility towards Asians and Asian Americans that dates back more than 100 years.

The CDC discuss how stigma is affecting individuals of Asian descent, how that stigma is based on erroneous information, and how individuals can counter that stigma.

Throughout history, infectious diseases have been associated with othering. The Lancet discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered social and political fractures within communities, with racialized and discriminatory responses to fear, disproportionately affecting marginalized groups.

As COVID-19 infections increase, so too does racism and xenophobia. Teaching Tolerance offers “Speak Up” strategies to respond to racist or xenophobic comments about coronavirus or anything else.

As the number of novel coronavirus cases rises, anxiety over the potentially deadly disease has been partly based on a fear of people of Asian descent rather than of the actual public health risk.