11.17.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Holds Special Order Hour on Impact COVID-19 has on Communities of Color

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congresswoman Barbara Lee delivered remarks on the House floor emphasizing the need for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and the disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, Latinx, and Indigenous people. Congresswoman Lee’s full remarks can be found here: 

“Thank you very much. First, I wanted -- thank you, Mr. Speaker, for yielding. And also to the Chair of our Congressional Black Caucus, I want to thank Chairwoman Bass who has helped organize this tonight and for her leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

“I join with my colleagues to speak on the impact of COVID-19, the pandemic, which has had an especially disparate impact on communities of color. First again let me thank Chairwoman Bass, Chairwoman Chu, Castro of the Tri-Caucus, as well as Representative Kelly, Holland, and Davis for working together to ensure that we address the disproportionate impact – effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color. Also, to Chairwoman Sylvia Garcia. 

“It's really very imperative that our strategy to crush COVID intentionally includes provisions to support the specific needs of our communities. I also want to take a moment to thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone for negotiating some of the provisions of our COVID Community Care Act, that's H.R. 8192, in our Heroes bill, which further strengthens efforts to engage medically underserved communities. 

“I'd like to thank Chairman Scott and of course, our Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro, for their support and their input and their assistance in getting this bill, the COVID Community Care Act, really very targeted, very focused, and something that all of us could support as a Tri-Caucus also. And of course Speaker Pelosi again for her steadfast understanding and support for this issue. Millions of people have suffered incomprehensible grief and hardship due to the COVID pandemic. 

“Just in the united states we now have over 10.3 million cases of COVID-19 and over 240,000 deaths. That's mind boggling. We're here today to insist that any coronavirus response address the needs of people of color. This is because the impacts of the pandemic and the economic fallout have had a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, pacific islanders and immigrant communities.  

“We have witnessed the horrific result of how longstanding inequities stemming if structural racism has exacerbated COVID’s threats to people of color. Black people are dying at more than twice the rate of white people in the United States. Indigenous and Latinx people are both 50% more likely to die from COVID than white Americans. Between January and July, the AAPI death rose 35% compared to an increase of 9% for white Americans.  

“The federal government must address the vicious cycle of disparities that drive these unequal impacts on communities of color especially during the COVID-19 crisis. That is why we introduced together H.R. 8192, the COVID Community Care Act, legislating that we will ensure that any effort to fight the pandemic engages local communities as partners in crushing the virus.  

“This bill supported by our Tri-Caucus colleagues, ensures that any testing and tracing efforts engages communities of color where they live with trusted messengers who speak their language and know their unique challenges. Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone worked with us to add language to Chairman Pallone’s $75 billion contact plan, this is included in the revised version of the Heroes Act passed October 1st, which will further strengthen efforts to engage communities of color. 

 “The strengthened contact plan mandates that community-based organizations and nonprofits in medically underserved communities play an important role to reach those communities that public health agencies have difficulty engaging and it ensures the people hired to conduct the outreach have experience and relationships with people living in the communities they serve. 

“Turning a blind eye to the American people's desperate need for cultural rooted contact tracing and testing will result in increased deaths and illnesses that we could have prevented. We must build a relief package that addresses the needs of millions, especially Black and Brown people who are suffering disproportionately from this virus.  

“So thank you again, Mr. Speaker and to our -- excuse me, Mr. Speaker, and to our speaker for her persistent leadership and fighting spirit to ensure that lawmakers acknowledge and respond to the racial and ethnic disparities that have plagued our nation for centuries. I would like to now yield to the Gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Garcia, who played an important role in making sure that the Latinx community and all the Hispanic issues as it relates to COVID were included as part of this bill. Thank you again.”