The coronavirus pandemic has been the great revealer, laying bare what Black and Brown communities have always known: Racism is a public health crisis that puts their health, their safety, and their lives at risk, every day.
We see it in disparities in access to health insurance coverage and quality healthcare providers, and implicit biases in our healthcare system. We see it in a justice system and an economic system that far too often treat Black lives as expendable. And we see it in all the social determinants of health—education, environmental hazards, housing and job opportunities, to name a few.
It should surprise no one that Black and Native American women are two to four times more likely than white women to suffer severe maternal morbidity or die of pregnancy-related complications. The Black infant mortality rate in the U.S. is higher than in 97 countries worldwide. And on and on it goes.
Those disparities are now being layered atop a deadly pandemic. It is not a coincidence that infection, hospitalization and mortality rates are disproportionately high among Black, Latino, American Indian, and Alaska Native populations. Data shows that 22% of COVID-19 patients are Black, despite Blacks making up just 13% of the population, and 33% of COVID-19 patients are Latino, when they make up just 18% of the population.