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Sen. Kamala Harris is introducing new legislation that creates a task force to address racial disparities that have been brought to light by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, titled the “COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act,” is intended to “gather data about disproportionately affected communities and provide recommendations to combat the racial and ethnic disparities in the COVID-19 response,” according to its introductory language.
Harris said she wants to create a group that includes health care and policy experts, community organizations, and federal, state and other leaders to put some focus on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted communities of color, reports The Hill.
“People of color are being infected and dying from coronavirus at astounding rates,” the Democratic California senator said in a statement. “This is in part due to persistent lack of access to health care, bias in our healthcare system, systematic barriers to equal pay and housing, and environmental injustice.”
“The COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act,” she continued, “is a necessary step to fully understand the impact of this virus in the hardest hit communities, and make targeted investments that correspond with their unique needs."
Coronavirus has had a critical impact on the African American community nationwide, largely fueled by previously existing health disparities including heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes and other ailments, experts say. But along with that are issues like living in crowded home spaces, exposure because of many being in essential worker jobs, and lack of access to good health care, according to a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as much as 21.2 percent of COVID-19 deaths are African American, although Black people only make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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