CDC director warns that racism is a 'serious threat' to public health in America
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that racism is a "serious threat" to public health in the United States as the pandemic rages on.
According to Talking Points Memo, Walensky noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted communities where people of color have suffered disproportionately higher case rates, death rates, and economic consequences.
On Thursday, April 8, Walensky expressed concern about how racism has contributed to the disparaging impacts of the pandemic on Black and Brown people. "Yet, the disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19," Walensky said. "Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism."
She added, "What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans."
The public health agency chief also explained how structural inequities and barriers "impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community."
"These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color," Walenksy said.
Walensky's remarks come months after the American Medical Association (AMA) expressed similar concerns about the long-term effects of racism during the pandemic. Susan Bailey, AMA president, also applauded the CDC chief in a new statement released on Thursday.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately plague Black and Brown communities, it's clear that collective action from all stakeholders is needed to dismantle systemic racism and confront, embed, and advance equity across our health care system," Bailey said.
She continued, "The AMA applauds the CDC for formally recognizing racism as a public health threat, and elevating and sharing the work of the AMA through its new Racism and Health initiative. The AMA's House of Delegates recognized racism as a public health threat in 2020, and will continue pushing for anti-racist policies and practices so that all people have the power, resources, and opportunities to reach their full health potential.""
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