Panel considers solutions to COVID-19 racial disparities

Washington DC Bureau
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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Even as infection and death rates wind down in some parts of the country, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show the coronavirus is still ravaging communities of color at a disproportionately higher rate.

Data shows COVID-19 is killing African Americans at a rate three times higher than white Americans.

Wednesday was the first time the House held a hearing to evaluate both immediate and long-term policy solutions.

Dr. Thomas Dean Sequist says the Navajo Nation is reeling from the virus and lacks basic necessities like running water, internet or hospital workers.

“We can and must do better,” he said. “We have to change our dialogue. We have to take really drastic steps to improve.”

Ibram X. Kendi, founder of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, says lawmakers must uncover and address the root of the problem.

“In Missouri, black people are 12% of the population, but 38% of the people who died,” he said. “Clearly, one of the predictors of someone having pre-existing conditions is simply access to medical insurance.”

The panelist says vulnerable communities need more testing resources and better protection for essential workers who are often black and brown Americans.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says the best way to protect them is by protecting their jobs.

“Our top priority is to make sure 39 million Americans now unemployed aren’t permanently unemployed,” Brady said.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, says reopening the economy should not risk more lives.

“We must ensure these people are protected moving forward,” he said.

While congress keeps working on the next relief bill, Kildee says that time is running out for many minority communities.

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