Harris Makes Push to Combat Racial Health Disparities Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Apr 23, 2020 | Community

S. E. WilliamsContributor

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) sent a letter this week to U.S. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) demanding they prioritize addressing the racial health disparities that have emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris wrote, “By now, you are no doubt aware that COVID-19 appears to be disproportionately infecting and killing minorities across the nation.

In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, preliminary data reveals the virus is twice as deadly for Black and Latino people compared to White people.

In Arizona, which has reported race and ethnicity data for half of its COVID-19 deaths, Native Americans account for 16% of deaths despite comprising only 6% of the population.

While Black individuals make up roughly one-third of Chicago’s population, they represent more than half of those who have tested positive, and 68% of those who have died in the city, suggesting Black Chicagoans are dying from COVID-19 at a rate nearly six times greater than White residents.

We have seen similar patterns emerge from Michigan to Louisiana, from the Carolinas to Las Vegas.”

Harris further advised how the lack of comprehensive data by race and ethnicity on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and outcomes continues to severely limit the nation’s understanding of the true scope of the virus’ impact on minority communities. “These numbers are staggering, sobering, and unsurprising,” she noted. “They reflect long-standing inequities in our health care system.”

In conclusion, Harris declared, “To combat this pandemic, we must make serious investments to address the underlying racial inequities that permeate our health care system, our economy, and our society.”

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