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Associate professor at UNC Department of Epidemiology, Dr. James Thomas, joins the show to discuss his line of work in health care ethics, and how it has changed in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Tune in to learn the following:

  • How medical ethics and public health ethics differ, and why the distinction is so important to understand
  • What the Siracusa principles are and how they apply to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How politics are muddying the waters of communication about COVID-19, and why this is problematic
  • How the government-led War on Drugs campaign caused the US to lead the world in incarceration rates, and how this disproportionately affected African American communities

For much of his career, Dr. James Thomas has studied the social determinants of infectious diseases, focusing particularly on the effects of mass incarceration on the communities left behind.

Over the last decade, he has done a lot of work involving health information systems in developing countries. Just as he was moving toward a study of digital data and how they are used in public health, COVID-19 hit.

Dr. Thomas discusses the social determinants of this virus, which includes a look at how incarcerated individuals are being affected by the virus, the level of constraint being placed on the general public in this country and across the globe, the unprecedented implementation of digital surveillance in China and the US, why COVID-19 presents unique challenges to health care ethics and decision-making, what he sees as the primary ethical mishap of this pandemic, what he thinks will happen as states begin to reopen across the country, and so much more.

To learn more about the current pandemic, Dr. Thomas suggests visiting the CDC website.

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