Health Equity

Due to preexisting health disparities, socioeconomic inequality, environmental toxins and structural racism, communities of color are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. People of color are more likely to have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, that put them at higher risk for complications from the virus. People of color and immigrants are less likely to be insured, and many communities of color face shortages of healthcare providers, making it difficult to access appropriate and timely care. People of color are also more likely to work in low-wage jobs that cannot be done remotely and to have fewer financial resources to draw on in the event of health problems or economic disruption, making it more difficult to avoid exposure. Low-income communities, people with disabilities, immigrants and tribal communities are also on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis. Early reporting on racial disparities in COVID-19 testing and treatment suggest that Black and Latinx communities have been among the hardest hit. In Louisiana, 70 percent of those who have died from COVID-19 so far are Black, compared with 32 percent of the state’s population. In Michigan, Black Americans account for 33 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of fatalities, despite making up only 14 percent of the state’s population. Similar trends have been reported in Milwaukee, Illinois and North Carolina.

Congress should approve Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act. This bill would require the reporting of the following data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, age, socioeconomic status, disability status, county and other demographic information in regards to testing, treatment and outcomes. It would also authorize $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state public health agencies, the Indian Health Service and other agencies to improve their data collection infrastructure and create an inter-agency commission to make recommendations on improving data collection and transparency and responding equitably to this crisis.1