April 9, 2021
Reps. Pressley, Lee and Senator Warren Applaud CDC’s Declaration of Racism as a Public Health Crisis
BOSTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released the following statement applauding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) commitment to address centuries of structural racism and discrimination in the U.S. public health system.
In February, the lawmakers reintroduced the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, a bicameral bill to declare structural racism a public health crisis and confront its public health impacts by creating a National Center for Anti-Racism and a Law Enforcement Violence Prevention Program within the CDC.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to over 500,000 deaths and tens of millions infected, has made it impossible to ignore the legacy of structural racism and how it has created deep disparities in health outcomes for Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous communities. Black and Brown people are nearly three times more likely than white people to contract COVID-19 and one to two times more likely to die from the disease.
“As the sponsors of the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, we welcome the actions by the CDC to acknowledge racism as a serious public health threat and to invest in health equity measures to combat these challenges. In addition to the threat of COVID-19, people of color are also disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hepatitis, and hypertension; infant mortality; maternal mortality and morbidity; and police brutality—not to mention the lasting impacts racism has on mental health for Black and Brown communities.
“We will continue pushing in Congress to pass this important legislation, and look forward to working with the CDC to tackle these challenges and ensure health equity across this nation. This is a great step in the right direction, but we must now fight to confront these forces head on so that Black and Brown communities no longer disproportionately suffer from systemic racism and inequality in our health system and beyond.”