Engel Statement on the Disproportionate Impact of Coronavirus on Minority Communities

Engel Statement on the Disproportionate Impact of Coronavirus on Minority Communities

Today, Engel participated in Energy and Commerce Committee briefing with CDC on racial disparities in the current coronavirus outbreak and pushed for more testing in minority communities

Congressman Eliot Engel offered the following statement after a virtual Energy and Commerce Committee briefing on the impact of coronavirus on minority communities:

“Long before the start of the coronavirus epidemic, communities of color faced significant challenges in accessing culturally-competent health care due to historically unjust social policies. Recently, New York City has seen these inequities have an unconscionable effect on pregnant women: African American women in New York City are 8-12 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. To reverse this public health crisis, I drafted and led the passage of the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act through the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal health care programs. I also helped introduce a resolution marking the week of April 11 as Black Maternal Health Week.

“The current coronavirus epidemic has only further exacerbated these unacceptable health inequities. The Bronx, which I’m proud to represent, is home to a large share of the City’s Black and Latino residents. These New Yorkers are many of the City’s essential workers and are putting their lives on the line each day to ensure that critical services continue to function during this pandemic. I had the honor to hear firsthand from many of these hard working men and women through recent tele-townhalls in the community hosted by 32BJ and SEIU1199. Despite the tremendous sacrifice these heroes make every day, the Trump Administration’s response has failed them. The Bronx has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the City. Furthermore, Black and Latino New Yorkers are twice as likely to die from coronavirus than Caucasian New Yorkers. It is unconscionable that in the world’s richest countries the most marginalized communities are being hit hardest by this virus.

“At today’s Energy & Commerce Committee briefing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I pressed the Principal Deputy Director to take steps to increase coronavirus testing in minority communities, which are in desperate need of these services. Access to testing and health care should not be determined by a person’s zip code, especially in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War. I’m proud to have worked with Democratic colleagues to secure $25 billion for coronavirus testing in the last stimulus bill, which was signed into law, and will help New York expand access to this critical service. I also recently helped introduce legislation that would require the federal government to collect data by racial and ethnic background for coronavirus related testing, treatment, and health outcomes. This legislation will help inform federal policies to support minority and medically underserved communities.

“This epidemic has brought to light the longstanding inequities that communities of color face. We need to use this moment in our nation’s history to reverse these injustices and help those who have been left behind far too many times. To that end, I recently helped introduce the landmark Health Equity and Accountability Act with the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, which would help reform the nation’s health care system by aiming to close these health disparities.”