From the genocide of Native Americans, the brutality of enslavement, imperialism, colonialism and immigration exclusion acts, every system in the United States is built on and informed by structural racism. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the resulting inequitable outcomes of healthcare in the U. S.
People of color experience more economic insecurity and poorer health outcomes than their white counterparts in myriad ways. As a result of these existing inequities, COVID-19 infection and mortality rates have tragically and predictably hit communities of color the hardest. People of color are being infected, hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than their white counterparts largely as a result of higher rates of exposure at work and underlying medical conditions. Despite the limitations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data, which does not include information on race and ethnicity for many cases, the data that we do have is damning.
In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not enough to seek solutions that will return the country to the status quo before the pandemic. Recognizing the need for both urgent response and systemic reform, we offer policy recommendations in the following categories:
- Addressing the immediate need for healthcare access
- Addressing the immediate need for economic relief
- Addressing the social determinants of health
- Addressing the long-term need for reform of the U.S. healthcare system