April 14, 2020

The Root: Congress Must Mandate Release of Coronavirus Demographic Data—Including Race and Ethnicity

The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetime. In the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of people are confirmed sick, more than 20,000 people have died, and more than 16 million have filed for unemployment.  

Already, we are seeing the ways in which the pandemic is impacting communities unequally. The early data is alarming: The virus appears to be infecting and killing people of color at higher rates. This reflects the structural racism and systemic inequalities that existed in our country long before the outbreak began.

People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods exposed to environmental hazards like polluted air, which can cause respiratory diseases like asthma that increase the risk of complications from coronavirus. They are more likely to lack access to clean water needed for hand-washing. They are less likely to have health insurance and less likely to have their health concerns taken seriously, despite higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other underlying conditions correlated with coronavirus mortality. People of color are also more likely to work in low-wage jobs that cannot be done remotely. They are essential workers on the frontlines of this crisis. And because of generations of entrenched structural racism, they also have fewer financial resources to lean on in the event of health problems or economic disruption, making it more difficult to stay home and avoid exposure. 

Read the full op-ed on The Root's website here 

By:  Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Karen Bass, Robin Kelly and Barbara Lee
Source: The Root