COVID-19 webinar: The Virus and its Health Disparities

As part of our EnvironMentors program’s efforts to engage our students during this period of social distancing, we have organized a webinar on COVID-19 in order to discuss the current pandemic and learn more about the virus. We hosted the first webinar, entitled “COVID-19: The Virus and its Health Disparities” last Friday, May 2nd and we invited Penn State professors, Dr. Kristin Szajder and Dr. Yendelela Cuffee to share their expertise and findings on the subject.

Dr. Sznajder is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Services and Behavioral research in the College of Medicine. She is also a social epidemiologist with a primary focus on researching the health disparities faced by women of reproductive age. Her research has centered on the social, environmental, and behavioral aspects of health outcomes such as HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health. She currently works on teams to conduct field research on primary prevention measures related to infectious disease in complex environments; the social determinants of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes; and environmental determinants of ill-health in vulnerable populations. Dr. Sznajder’s presentation on Friday, entitled: “COVID-19: Investigating a pandemic” was on the field epidemiology and how the discipline is currently examining the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Yendelela Cuffee is a social epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. Her research examines the psychosocial and behavioral determinants of health among African Americans and Latinos, including race and gender-based discrimination, positive affect, and spirituality. Dr. Cuffee develops and implements community-based research to promote behavioral change; her current research project uses storytelling to promote lifestyle modification and behavioral change among African Americans with hypertension. Dr. Cuffee’s presentation entitled: “Health Disparities and the Impact of COVID-19: A Social Justice Issue” talked about her research on high blood pressure within minority communities and its implications in the pandemic.

Both Dr. Szanjder and Dr. Cuffee shared several insightful and important information regarding the pandemic and the different ways we can help flatten the curve and decrease the current number of cases across the nation. Click both presentations’ titles to download the slides to get more information about COVID-19.