The Colors of COVID-19: Confronting Health Disparities During a Global Pandemic (Virtual Event)

The Colors of COVID-19: Confronting Health Disparities During a Global Pandemic


February 16, 2021


2pm - 3.30pm


Virtual - Register in advance at


Professor Stephen B. Thomas, Professor, Health Policy and Management and Director, Maryland Center for Health Equity



Never in our lives have we experienced such a global phenomenon. For the first time in history, the world has come together, focused on the same existential threat, consumed by the same fears and uncertainties, eagerly anticipating the same, yet unrealized, promises of medical science. In a matter of months, human civilization has been brought low by the novel SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), a microscopic parasite 10,000 times smaller than a grain of salt. COVID-19 attacks our physical bodies, but also the cultural foundations of our lives. Depending upon how we respond, our lives, and literally our way of life, hangs in the balance.

Today, we are using mitigation interventions designed during the 1918 Flu pandemic 100 years ago. The approach is largely focused on slowing the rate of spread, flattening the curve of morbidity. There are no cures, and the promise of a vaccine is distant. If history is any lesson, the mumps vaccine took four years and that is the fastest vaccine ever developed. The development and deployment of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 at “warp-speed” (12–18 months) is fraught with potential complications. 

We must all be mindful that in human history, pandemics and plagues have a way of shifting the course of history, and not always to the benefits of the survivors. As companies eliminate or close, the internet brings entertainment and sporting events into our home, and airline travel becomes ever more problematic and miserable, people will adapt. The financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will cast a long shadow, especially on populations made more vulnerable due to poverty and discrimination. 

While COVID-19 does not discriminate, it exposes what is wrong and right in how different societies are organized and structured. As a result, health inequities have been exacerbated by this pandemic. We may all be in the same storm, but everyone is not in the same boat. What can we learn when success in one nation is rejected by another? How do we create prevention strategies and messages tailored for the most disadvantaged and least privileged?


Speaker Bio:

One of the nation's leading scholars in the effort to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, Dr. Stephen B. Thomas has applied his expertise to address a variety of conditions from which minorities generally face far poorer outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS.  He is the Principal Investigator (with Dr. Sandra C. Quinn) on the Center of Excellence in Race, Ethnicity and Health Disparities Research, funded by the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Dr. Thomas has received numerous awards for his professional accomplishments, and over the years, his work has become recognized as one of the scholarly contributions leading to the 1997 Presidential Apology to Survivors of the Syphilis Study Done at Tuskegee.  His current research focuses on the translation of evidence-based science on chronic disease into community-based interventions designed to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. More specifically, he has focused on understanding how social context shapes attitudes and behaviors of underserved, poorly served, and never-served segments of our society toward participation in health promotion and disease prevention activities. Dr. Thomas is particularly interested in how the legacy of the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee (1932–72) has impacted trust and influenced the willingness of African Americans to participate in medical and public health research.


This event is co-sponsored by: 






Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 2:00pm to Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 2:00pm

Virtual Event: You must register at to attend 


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