SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Health Commissioner, Helen Caulton-Harris visited American International College on Wednesday to talk about how the City of Springfield dealt with COVID and the effect social determinants like racism, homelessness and poverty has on peoples health.

“COVID-19 ripped the Band-Aid off of health disparities. So, what we understood is that joblessness, homelessness and poverty, all of those issues our community really struggled with,” says Caulton-Harris.

Caulton-Harris says that things are important to people, like housing and jobs are needed for people to feel good and not powerless in the environment. She adds that it is critical to consider prevention , intervention and treatment. Her goal is to inform students and encourage them to see where they can make a difference.

“It’s a good idea that like were all from different places so we’re all coming together and all going to the same school, so finding those ways to work together, to make things better for the long run,” says AIC Freshman, Jonathan Rosario.

Helen Caulton-Harris says that even after the COVID emergency ends on May 11, they will continue to hand out testing kits.

Despite scaling back, Springfield will also continue to vaccinate, hand out masks and educate the public. Caulton-Harris says the state can help by making sure the public health infrastructure is supported and funded.