New York City, New York/USA June 2, 2020 Black Lives Matter Protest March demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

COVID-19, Social Movements, and Health

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people protested, the issues faced by vulnerable communities, and how people communicated their concerns and needs.

This past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full force, we saw protests for Black Lives Matter, uprisings against police violence, and demands for medical attention by people living with long COVID. We saw the rise of new organizations, including Data for Black Lives, which demanded better race data in the pandemic, and we saw old movements reconfigure, including anti-domestic violence advocates, who had to respond to the needs of people trapped in their homes with their abusers, and abortion activists, who demanded access to medication abortion with new urgency.

Despite a great deal of activism, very little writing focuses on the many intersections of public health and social movements. This symposium, which is guest edited by Aziza Ahmed, professor of law at University of California, Irvine School of Law, aims to provide a forum to begin this discussion.

Abortion rights protest following the Supreme Court decision for Whole Women's Health in 2016
Further on-the-ground innovations, outside the courtroom and across state borders, will be needed to meet future challenges to abortion access. Read more
police cars lined up.
Where a health state is intertwined with carceral logics, enforcement becomes coercive. Read more
Beverly Hills, CA: April 7, 2021: Anti-mask protesters holding signs related to COVID-19. Beverly Hills and the state of California have a mask mandate requirement.
Social movements' impact need not be salutatory, as is evident by the success that the anti-vax movement has had during Read more
Globe and vaccine.
Activists in the access-to-medicines movement have mobilized to combat the threat of vaccine/therapeutic apartheid during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more
Blue house in grass field.
The pandemic showed that community-based supports can foster safety and accountability without requiring state intervention. Read more
Police car.
Collective movement struggles during the twin crises of COVID-19 and the 2020 uprisings have helped blur the concepts of public Read more
Los Angeles, California / USA - May 1, 2020: People in front of Los Angeles’ City Hall protest the state’s COVID-19 stay at home orders in a “Fully Open California” protest.
The emerging law of social distancing is vital to the future of public health. And social protests are playing an Read more
Gloved hand holding medical rapid test labeled COVID-19 over sheet of paper listing the test result as negative.
COVID Long Haulers and patient advocates for the chronically ill are forcing an unprecedented recognition for these chronic complex diseases. Read more
Person typing on computer.
The pandemic finally shifted the reproductive justice movement’s focus to abortion access, rather than abortion rights. Read more

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