Senator Murray: Racism is a Public Health Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the racial disparities that pervade public health as a direct result of systemic racism, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) to announce a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The resolution asserts that barriers to quality health care access, housing, jobs, wages and more contribute to stark disparities in health care access and health outcomes for communities of color. COVID-19 has proven especially lethal for people of color: the infection, hospitalization, and mortality rates are disproportionately high among Black, Latino, and Tribal populations. Data show 22 percent of COVID-19 patients are Black, when Black people make up 13 percent of the entire population, and 33 percent of COVID-19 patients are Latino, when they make up just 18 percent of the entire population.

“The health effects of this global pandemic are disproportionately affecting people of color, and highlight why the federal government must finally address entrenched racism in our health care system. This resolution is an important acknowledgement of the many ways our country’s deep-rooted racism has harmed communities of color, and the need for action,” Senator Murray said.

The resolution acknowledges the history of racism and discrimination within the health care system and the systemic barriers that people of color continue to face when seeking care. The resolution also highlights the effects of systemic racism on the health and wellness of communities of color, resulting in shorter life expectancy, worsened health outcomes, and enhanced exposure to harmful or dangerous environments. This resolution encourages concrete action to address health disparities and inequity across all sectors in society.

Senator Murray has committed to working on the federal level to address systemic racism following nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice. In July, Senator Murray joined Senate Democrats to announce the Economic Justice Act, which would invest $350 Billion in communities of color to respond to the pandemic and build wealth and health in communities of color.  

Read the full text of the resolution HERE.