WASHINGTON (April 7, 2020)—The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting communities across the country but is likely falling even harder on communities of color. Five members of Congress have asked the Department of Health and Human Services and its sub-agencies to monitor and address racial disparities in testing, treatment, and other actions relating to COVID-19. That’s an essential requirement to tackling this dangerous pandemic in an effective and equitable way, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.
“We’re facing a national health crisis, but we still don’t know enough about it. And everything we do know suggests that this crisis is exacerbating the divides created by racial discrimination. Communities of color may be more exposed to the dangers of COVID-19, and less protected by the federal response—and that’s unacceptable.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting hard in communities that are already bearing a disproportionately higher burden from environmental risks and reduced access to health care. We’ve seen strong evidence that communities of color and low-income communities, who are more likely to face chronic exposure to pollution, are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. We need to take these long-standing inequities into account as we take on both the urgent task of managing this crisis now and the work of rebuilding for the future.
“Scientists understand we can’t solve problems we can’t see, and there’s no problem more urgent than understanding who is affected by this devastating outbreak and making sure everyone can get the testing and treatment they need. We can’t afford to leave anyone behind. We join the members of Congress who have called attention to this problem, and we urge the Department of Health and Human Services to collect and publicly report racial data on all patients who are tested and treated for COVID-19.”