The director of health agencies, Rochelle Walensky, assured that they would take measures to address the historical problem.
The Centers for Disease Control of the United States (CDC, for its acronym in English) has the power to put labels on social problems and make them priorities for state policy. And they did that with racism. The health agencies officially classified it as a serious threat to public health. Consequently, they announced the decision to take measures to address it.
What is known 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, CDC head Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
In this way, the largest public health agency in the nation joins a long list of agencies and organizations that have declared their willingness to put the fight against racism at the forefront of their priorities. According to the American Public Health Association, there are 170 state and local leaders and public health entities that have recently declared racism a public health crisis or emergency.
But the fact that the CDC, with the high profile it has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly its director (one of the officials with the best positive image of the Biden administration precisely for being the visible face of the fight against coronavirus), have decided to focus on this issue, gives it even greater visibility.
In his statement, Walensky highlights that the pandemic has affected the so-called communities of color disproportionately, precisely because of the problems of structural racism and whose impact is reflected in the way in the historical living conditions of these different ethnic and racial groups.
“For generations, these structural inequities have resulted in fewer services for certain racial and ethnic groups, which are unacceptable,” the statement read. According to the agency, members of ethnic minorities are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are not. The rate was 2.4 times higher for descendants of native tribes, 2.3 for Hispanics, and 1.9 for African Americans.
The only concrete facts that are known are the allocation of funds to combat the pandemic in certain communities of color, reduce disparities, and create a section on the CDC website dedicated to racism and health, hoping to draw attention to the issue.
The American Medical Association, which had declared racism a public health problem last November, publicly applauded the CDC’s announcement.
“While COVID 19 continues to affect African-American and brown communities unevenly (about the skin color of communities such as African-American, Latino, Arab-American, and Indian-American, among others), it is clear the need for collective action involving all stakeholders to dismantle systemic racism and confront, embed and advance equity in our health system, “said Susan Bailey, president of the association in a statement.
In addition to the inequities in the lack of access to health coverage, the pandemic revealed a racial problem that was rarely discussed before: racism towards people of Asian origin. According to data from the report prepared with much of the population blaming China for the appearance of COVID-19, during the year of the pandemic, there have been more than 3,800 incidents against people of Asian origin throughout the United States by the forum. Stop AAPI Hate, mostly against women and minors.