You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

CDC declares racism a 'serious public health threat' as COVID-19 puts a spotlight on disparities

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/11/2021 Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY

As the coronavirus continues to disproportionately affect communities of color, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared racism a "serious public health threat."

In a statement Thursday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said communities of color were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and were facing higher case counts and deaths compared to other races. 

"Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that 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," Walensky said.

a person who is smiling and looking at the camera: FILES) In this file photo taken on March 18, 2021 Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. - Health authorities expressed concern on April 7, 2021 over rising coronavirus cases in the northern US state of Michigan despite a stepped-up vaccination campaign.Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, warned on Twitter of a "significant increase" in cases. (Photo by Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 0 ORIG FILE ID: AFP_97K3ZE.jpg © SUSAN WALSH, POOL/AFP via Getty Images FILES) In this file photo taken on March 18, 2021 Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. - Health authorities expressed concern on April 7, 2021 over rising coronavirus cases in the northern US state of Michigan despite a stepped-up vaccination campaign.Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, warned on Twitter of a "significant increase" in cases. (Photo by Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 0 ORIG FILE ID: AFP_97K3ZE.jpg

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Life expectancy decreases: The U.S. lost a whole year of life expectancy – and for Black people, it's nearly 3 times worse

America has a history of medically abusing Black people: No wonder many are wary of COVID-19 vaccines

Members of Black, American Indian or Alaska native, Hispanic and Asian communities were up to 2.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white patients, according to the CDC. These same groups also were up to 3.7  times more likely to be hospitalized from the virus. 

Walensky said the disparities exposed through the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on a consistent underlying issue in America – racism.

Walensky outlined steps the CDC is taking "to accelerate its work to address racism as a fundamental driver of racial and ethnic health inequities in the United States." The CDC also launched a new section to their website: "Racism and Health," a hub of the agency’s efforts and a catalyst for greater education and dialogue around these critical issues, the CDC said.

The CDC joins the American Medical Association which enacted a policy last November recognizing racism as a threat to public health. 

The policy by AMA described three tiers of racism: systemic, cultural and interpersonal. Each tier outlined hurdles communities of color face to reach health equity. 

"Confronting the impact of racism will not be easy. I know that we can meet this challenge," Walensky said.

COVID vaccine conspiracy theories: 'We are going to have to save ourselves,' Black community fights deadly COVID vaccine conspiracy theories

Personal finances a year after COVID: A year after COVID, personal finances are not so grim for millions of Americans

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC declares racism a 'serious public health threat' as COVID-19 puts a spotlight on disparities

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon