In a letter sent by the Congressional Black Caucus on April 7 to Robert Redfield, M.D., Director for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Congressional Black Caucus is calling for immediate racial data reporting for COVID-19 in every state, amidst rising trends in infections and mortality of Black people with coronavirus. To date, only nine states and the District of Columbia have released data based on race, which represents less than 20% of the country. With the limited data of coronavirus deaths out of cities and states across the nation such as Milwaukee (73%), Chicago (67%), Louisiana (70%), D.C. (58%) it is already evident that the death rates are disproportionate to the Black population in these areas hardest hit. We need full disclosure of racial data to identify and prioritize the areas of greatest impact.
In the letter, the Congressional Black Caucus urges the CDC to prioritize the collection and reporting of vital public health data which will include race and risk factors. With this information, Congress and the Administration must work together to prioritize all efforts to ensure every person in America has equitable access to COVID-19 testing and treatment regardless of their race or ethnic background.
“Healthcare disparities in our country have been a long standing issue and concern for the Congressional Black Caucus. The spread of the coronavirus has compounded these issues, leaving Black people even more vulnerable. We need to urgently address these disparities with a targeted response to our community,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The spread and outcome of COVID-19 in the United States has simply brought the issues of healthcare disparities to the forefront of national attention. But it did not catch us by surprise. The Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Brainstrust, Chaired by Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-20), focuses on identifying the areas of grave concern as it relates to health and healthcare for Black people and advocating for equitable legislative responses.
“Obtaining the data from every state in America is critical to a targeted response that ensures ample resources, including funding and testing, are deployed to the communities hardest hit. The data we are seeing from the few states that are reporting shows that Black people are the most vulnerable and the distribution of resources must reflect this. Without this data, we will continue to risk the lives of people in this country,” said Rep. Robin Kelly, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Braintrust.
What we are seeing is more than just an overstretched healthcare system, but instead the result of years of systemic racism, disenfranchisement, and oppression of Black people in America. The reason more Blacks are dying from COVID-19 is a result of a history of structural racism, environmental injustice, income inequality, and the lack of resources in Black communities, which have led to the prominence of health related risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. With this data along with targeted testing and funding the CBC is confident this will be a more effective approach to overcoming this health crisis in our community and saving Black lives.