The Center for Disease Control and Prevention declared racism a serious public health threat and is calling on the government to tackle it head on.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky referenced the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color as evidence that racism is an “epidemic” that “directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans” and therefore “affects the health of our entire nation.”
A recent report conducted by the APM Research Lab showed that Indigenous and Black Americans continue to suffer the highest actual rates of loss due to the pandemic, followed closely by Pacific Islanders. People of color all have a COVID-19 death rate of double or more than of White and Asian Americans, who experience the lowest age-adjusted rates. Another report, this time from the Washington Post, shows that Black Americans were 37% more likely to die of the virus than whites.
“Yet, the disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.”
“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans. As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation,” she added. “Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community. These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color.”