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Democrats Push Bill to Label Racism a ‘Public Health Crisis’

'It's clear that COVID-19 has exacerbated decades of disparities in health outcomes...'

Three Democrats reintroduced a bill this week that would label racism a nationwide public health crisis.

The bill, titled Anti-Racism in the Public Health Act, was introduced last year by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

If passed, it would establish two new departments in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: a National Center for Anti-Racism, and a Law Enforcement Violence Prevention Program.

“Structural racism is a public health crisis that continues to ravage [b]lack, [b]rown and indigenous communities, deny us access to quality health care, and exacerbate the longstanding racial disparities in health outcomes,” Pressley said in a statement.

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“To confront and dismantle the racist systems and practices that create these inequities, we need robust, comprehensive research on the public health impacts of structural racism and policy solutions to bring an end to these disparities once and for all,” she continued.

Warren claimed the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the effects of structural racism, making this bill even more important than when it was first introduced in September.

“It’s clear that COVID-19 has exacerbated decades of disparities in health outcomes for [b]lack and [b]rown people,” she said in a statement.

“My bill with Congresswoman Pressley and Congresswoman Lee to create anti-racist federal health policy that studies and addresses these deep disparities in health outcomes at their roots is how we start treating health disparities like the public health crises they are,” she added.

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The Senate version of the bill attracted several co-sponsors last year, including Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

Data confirm that black Americans are more likely to contract and die from the virus.

However, there is insufficient information as to how much of the impact is related to specific comorbidities versus high-risk lifestyle and cultural factors that allowed the virus to spread more readily within the black community.

Black Americans are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hepatitis and hypertension—all of which are believed to worsen the effects of the coronavirus. Several of those are also linked to other mitigating factors, such as obesity.

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