Pandemic - University of Houston
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During the Covid-19 pandemic, the UH IRWGS issued 12 updates on the gender, race/ethnicity and age breakdown of fatalities, based on death certificates from the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health.  The Pandemic Gender Snapshot reports tracked the emerging scene and examined the evolving understanding of the pandemic’s national impact and its impact on the Houston community. As elsewhere, the pandemic in our region involved disproportionate effects on older people, women, people of color, and low-income families. The reports also highlight the increase in violence against women and children during the pandemic.

As of October 7, 2022, the last of the PGS reports, there were 8,402 COVID-19 deaths certified in Houston/Harris County. 59.1% of deaths were among men, while women account for 40.9%. Six certificates indicated sex unknown.

COVID-19 deaths in Houston/Harris County were undercounted in real time, due to the processing involved in certifying deaths. Deaths were also undercounted because some who died of COVID-19 were not tested or diagnosed. But the disparate proportion of effects across groups is suggested in this data.

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported each month varied over time, and the snapshots track that variation. Deaths peaked in July 2020, and there was additional, smaller  peaks in January and August 2021. The number of deaths has declined markedly since then, but Covid-19 is not fully eradicated.

The highest mortality rates are among Hispanic and Black residents of Harris County. Women are less likely to die from COVID-19 than men, due to a combination of biological and behavioral factors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on women and families in Houston/Harris County. Women are more likely to be responsible for childcare and homeschooling, and they are more likely to experience domestic violence. The pandemic also made it more difficult for women to access birth control and abortion services.


The reports call for a few policy changes to address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on women, people of color, and low-income families. These include:

  • Investing in affordable housing and childcare. This would help to reduce the economic burden on families and make it easier for women to work and care for their families.
  • Improving access to healthcare. This would help to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need, regardless of their income or race/ethnicity.
  • Addressing the root causes of violence against women and children. This would require a multi-pronged approach that includes education, prevention programs, and support services for victims. 

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