Harris Blames Higher Black COVID-19 Death Rate on Economic, Healthcare Disparity

Harris Blames Higher Black COVID-19 Death Rate on Economic, Healthcare Disparity

Image Credit: Phil Roeder from Des Moines, IA, USA / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)


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Daniel Duffy
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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On Tuesday, Sen. Kamala Harris appeared on the Late Night Show with Seth Meyers program, and explained that due to systemic and institutional racism, minority communities are being hit the hardest by the pandemic. She also stressed that another reason minority communities are suffering the most from the outbreak is that they are rarely provided enough resources. 

Her comments come after it was discovered that in places like Louisiana, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color.

In Louisiana, 70 percent of those who died from the virus were African American, even though African Americans only account for 32 percent of the state’s population.

Similarly, in Chicago, black residents are 30 percent of the city’s population, but they make up 72 percent of coronavirus deaths so far.

“Those who have always been at the short end of the stick, in a moment of crisis, it becomes even more evident, and in this case even more fatal,” Harris said to host Seth Meyers during the show. “We’ve long had, historically, because of a number of issues that are about systemic and institutional racism and just inequities across the board, in terms of bringing resources equally in a way that is equitable, not just equal but equitable. And so you see the disparities based on race in health care, economic disparities, educational disparities.”

“So, what we are seeing is all of that coupled with a lack of resources in those communities where people of color and poor people live, just exasperates what was a preexisting disparity,” Harris added.

However, Harris noted that “this is a moment where we can actually think about how we structurally and systemically improve these systems,” and called for the federal government to take more action to support communities who lack resources and are more vulnerable to the pandemic’s negative effects.

“The federal government needs to collect the data about the disparities as it has affected these communities in terms of the coronavirus…and what we need in terms of resources in those communities. The federal government should be tracking this so we can deploy the resources where they’re needed,” Harris said.

Harris also addressed the recent $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that just passed, and explained that while it was a step in the right direction, it does not provide enough aid to those who need help the most. 

“We need to get back to it and get another bill passed,” she stated. The current bill “really is inadequate to meet the needs of the 10 million people just last week who are now unemployed, the small business owners who need support so they can sustain their business, the hospitals that need masks and ventilators and support so that they can help support their workers.”

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