Racism Drives Inequities in COVID-19

June 24, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified June 25, 2020

As stated in this article by MedPage Today, systemic racism is to blame for disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 among Black Americans, public health experts told a House Energy & Commerce subcommittee Wednesday.

“[T]his virus could have harmed anyone … and yet because of racism and its pervasive hold on every institution in America … COVID-19 has been the most devastating and deadly for Black Americans,” Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and child health advocate at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, told the subcommittee on Wednesday.

While underlying conditions unequally impact Black Americans, she stressed, these figures can’t be boiled down simply to those conditions and higher poverty rates. “Racial health inequities and COVID-19 are the result of racism,” Boyd said, and these differences are “wholly preventable.”

Differences in access to healthcare, the affordability of services, implicit biases by some clinicians, and African Americans’ limited participation in clinical trials all influence health outcomes.

In other words, “racism, not race, affects health,” Oliver Brooks, MD, president of the National Medical Association and the chief medical officer at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles pointed out.

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