“This pandemic has exposed the inequality that exists everywhere, particularly in the U.S. healthcare system, resulting in harm to African Americans at a drastically disproportionate rate,” he started. “The nation has seen only a small glimpse into the reality that has resonated within the Black community for decades. Our communities remain marginalized, underfunded, and largely forgotten on every imaginable scale.”
He continued, “For more than three years, this Administration has dismantled programs and policies that promote equality and reduce racial disparities in every facet of society. Hollow convenings will not change what is happening in our communities.”
Johnson then made an ask of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately release information regarding COVID-19 testing, cases and outcomes “using data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status.”
“Our federal, state and local governments must ensure necessary policies and practices are in place, so that important data, testing, treatment, and resources are available on an equal basis and reach all people in all communities,” Johnson ended.
Although states like Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, and Louisiana have released data on the disproportionate coronavirus cases within the Black community, national efforts to track cases, testing, and deaths have been slow. Michigan took the initiative on Friday to announce a task force that will be led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. The group will make recommendations to address the disproportionate number of Black residents with COVID-19, according to Associated Press. “This virus is holding up a mirror to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in our country,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has also called out the disproportionate coronavirus deaths among Black people along with Mayor Muriel Bowser of D.C. and Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.
Despite the callouts, government data collection has still been spotty and it’s crucial to certain areas getting funding and resources to attack the pandemic in Black communities. The federal government has yet to release comprehensive data or to demand data collection, although Trump has acknowledged the coronavirus’ disproportionate effect on Black communities, according to The Washington Post.
At a coronavirus briefing last Tuesday he said, “Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people? It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t like it, and we are going to have statistics over the next probably two to three days.” The comprehensive data has yet to be released. Instead, Trump seems to be more concerned with reopening the economy.
Meanwhile, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams used condescending rhetoric towards Black and brown people on Friday during a daily White House press briefing on the coronavirus. Because Black people are more likely to have preexisting health conditions that can compromise their fight against the coronavirus — like heart disease and asthma — Adams said Black and brown folks should “avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs” and later added, “We need you to step up.”
He also urged Black people to follow social guidelines, such as staying at home or wearing protective face covering, in order to resist the coronavirus. “Do it for your abuela, do it for your grandaddy, do it for your Big Mama, do it for your pop pop,” Adams said. Once again, it seems like the national government was projecting a message of personal responsibility instead of doubling down their own efforts of data collection and subsequent action to help fight COVID-19 among Black people.