Senators Stabenow and Schumer Release Report on Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a report on April 30 detailing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. The report also lists Democratic priorities for future coronavirus relief packages, including funding to provide emergency rental assistance for low-income renters and to address the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness. 

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the impact of longstanding structural inequities and racial discrimination, leaving people of color acutely vulnerable to coronavirus infection and increasing the likelihood of severe complications and death due to the disease. Despite comprising 13% of the U.S. population, Black people make up 30% of COVID-19 patients nationally. In New York, Black and Latino people are twice as likely to die from coronavirus as white people. In New Mexico, Native people make up roughly 10% of the population but suffer 29% of coronavirus infections, while in Arizona, Native people account for 16% of COVID-19 deaths but only 6% of the state’s population.

The report notes that structural racism and discrimination have created an environment in which communities of color have less access to quality healthcare and are more likely to: 1) be uninsured and have pre-existing medical conditions; 2) live in “food deserts” with limited access to nutritious foods and increased reliance on convenience stores and fast food restaurants; and 3) reside in areas with high levels of air pollution. Moreover, people of color make up a disproportionate number of frontline workers, limiting their ability to work from home. They have been hit hardest by layoffs and furloughs. They are more likely to experience homelessness or to be severely housing-cost burdened, spending over half of their incomes on rent.

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color lays bare the necessity of centering racial equity in coronavirus funding packages. Along with ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare and COVID-19 testing and treatment, the report notes that “emergency rental assistance, mortgage assistance, and other support for families to…stay in their homes during and after the COVID-19 crisis” should be one of top priorities in the next coronavirus relief bill. The report also emphasizes the importance of additional funding for homeless service providers and housing providers to help individuals and families find shelter and remain stably housed during the pandemic.

Read the full report at: