Congresswoman Barbara Lee Slams Senate Republicans for Refusing to Address Racial Disparities in COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement after Senate Republicans blocked a vital relief bill that required the CDC to release data on racial disparities.

“We are facing an unprecedented national crisis – yet, instead of ensuring that all communities have the resources they need to stay safe, Senate Republicans are playing politics with people’s lives.

“Every day, we are seeing more evidence that communities of color are more affected by COVID-19. In Chicago, African Americans make up 70% of those who have died from COVID-19 – despite only making up 30% of the city’s population. 

“This is unconscionable. If we are to ensure everyone’s safety and security, we need the facts on who is being affected. Congressional Democrats pushed hard to include not only a reporting requirement from the CDC, but a plan to reduce those disparities. It is shameful, but unsurprising, that Senate Republicans decided to reject this critical package.

“Our communities deserve better.” 

The bill would require the Secretary of HHS, in conjunction with the CDC, provide a report on the race, ethnicity, age, and sex of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 no later than May 15. The report must also provide the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths attributed to COVID-19 broken out by demographic group, and will be updated every 30 days until the end of the COVID-19 public emergency. Additionally, within 180 days after passage, the Secretary of HHS must release a report on the difference in the number of positive diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of COVID-19 disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, sex, hospitalization, and death. It would also require the Secretary to put forward policy recommendations on how to reduce racial disparities related to COVID-19. 

A full text of the bill can be found here.