Ohio under COVID

Lessons from America’s Heartland in Crisis
Katherine Sorrels, Vanessa Carbonell, Danielle Bessett, Lora Arduser, Edward V. Wallace, and Michelle L. McGowan, Editors
The human story of Covid, from America's bellwether state


In early March of 2020, Americans watched with uncertain terror as the novel coronavirus pandemic unfolded. One week later, Ohio announced its first confirmed cases. Just one year later, the state had over a million cases and 18,000 Ohioans had died. What happened in that first pandemic year is not only a story of a public health disaster, but also a story of social disparities and moral dilemmas, of lives and livelihoods turned upside down, and of institutions and safety nets stretched to their limits.  

Ohio under COVID tells the human story of COVID in Ohio, America’s bellwether state. Scholars and practitioners examine the pandemic response from multiple angles, and contributors from numerous walks of life offer moving first-person reflections. Two themes emerge again and again: how the pandemic revealed a deep tension between individual autonomy and the collective good, and how it exacerbated social inequalities in a state divided along social, economic, and political lines. Chapters address topics such as mask mandates, ableism, prisons, food insecurity, access to reproductive health care, and the need for more Black doctors. The book concludes with an interview with Dr. Amy Acton, the state’s top public health official at the time COVID hit Ohio. Ohio under COVID captures the devastating impact of the pandemic, both in the public discord it has unearthed and in the unfair burdens it has placed on the groups least equipped to bear them.

Katherine Sorrels is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati.

Vanessa Carbonell is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.

Danielle Bessett is Professor of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati.

Lora Arduser is Associate Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati.

Edward V. Wallace is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Michelle L. McGowan is Senior Associate Consultant II in the Biomedical Ethics Research Program at Mayo Clinic and Visiting Scholar in the Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Praise / Awards

  • Ohio under COVID exemplifies a quote by Fissell et al. the editors cite:  ‘pandemics are global phenomena, but they are lived locally.’ What better state than Ohio to focus on as it reflects the various geographic and cultural divisions of the larger United States? This open access book provides us with a much-needed example of public health humanities that brings together authors from academia and the community to more deeply examine how the COVID pandemic impacted individuals and institutions at a state and local level.”
    —Kayhan Parsi, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
  • “A tour de force, detailing many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s tragic impact in Ohio.”
    —Mark Cameron, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • “Impressively, the editors have brought together a group of researchers and physicians with a wealth of experience in different fields of study. Ohio is a bellwether state in many ways, and the authors and editors do a very nice job of placing the state in a national and local context.”
    —Phillip McMinn Singer, University of Utah

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 340pp.
  • 2 tables, 15 figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2023
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07572-0

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  • $85.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2023
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05572-2

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  • $39.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2023
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90306-1

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