The coronavirus pandemic has made the everyday realities of structural racism abundantly clear: A year into the pandemic, statistics show that Black and Latino people are three times more likely than white people to contract Covid-19 and two times more likely to succumb to the illness altogether. The impact of the virus extends to jobs, mental health, housing, and education, too — setting people of color further back.
Meanwhile, new data shows that Black and brown communities aren’t being reached by mass vaccination efforts, with white Americans having greater access to the vaccine.
To tackle these glaring disparities — and the harmful health effects of decades of systemic racism more broadly — Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Barbara Lee are reintroducing a bill in Congress on Monday. Their Anti-Racism in Public Health Act of 2021 would make sure the US government understands just how badly people of color’s health has been harmed by two ongoing crises: the coronavirus pandemic and the disproportionate rate of violence that law enforcement officials inflict on Black and brown people.
Right now, the three lawmakers say, the federal government doesn’t even have the information it needs to adequately confront the racial disparities in health outcomes. When the coronavirus pandemic surged last spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not readily release information by race until the public demanded it. According to Pressley, the government failed to “adequately collect race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 testing, hospitalization, and deaths.” One of the bill’s key goals is to expand research about the virus’s impact by race — and ultimately shape health policy that is anti-racist.
The other is to tackle another threat to the lives of Black
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