In a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley called for an investigation into racial inequality in the nation’s pandemic response.
“To date, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars to sustain our health system and mitigate the economic fallout during this public health emergency. However, it is not clear whether that relief has successfully reached the communities that are most impacted,” the letter first shared with BuzzFeed News reads.
Current research from the CDC shows that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Black, Latino, and Native American communities. Demographic data is still not available for all cases, but where it is available, the disproportionality is evident.
Black people are more likely to contract the virus and suffer from complications. Black people also represent about 14% of all cases, and about 18% of all deaths related to coronavirus, but make up only 13% of the US population.
Latino people make up about 24% of all coronavirus cases and nearly 15% of Covid-related deaths, and 19% of the nation’s population.
The pandemic’s economic impact on these communities, even after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed in March, is also an area of concern for Warren and Pressley. The one-time payment has not been enough for families and individuals and has in some cases exacerbated centuries of economic exploitation and oppression.
Warren and Pressley have requested that the GAO investigate whether the Paycheck Protection Program and healthcare funding intended for small businesses, healthcare providers, communities, and individuals was actually received by these groups.
A survey of Black and Latino business owners showed that only 12% of those who applied were approved for PPP loans in the full amount. Half of those who participated in the survey anticipate having to permanently close their businesses within six months.
Hospitals in Black communities did not receive the funding necessary to address the overwhelming amount of cases they saw, according to a study in the journal of the American Medical Association.
An analysis also shows that testing was more readily and widely available in zip codes with larger white populations, despite the virus’ impact on communities of color.
Health experts warn about the impending third wave of the pandemic, as the new presidential administration transitions into power. It will be a top priority for the incoming presidential administration.
Marcella Nunez-Smith, a co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board and director at the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine told the Associated Press, “We cannot get this pandemic under control if we do not address head-on the issues of inequity in our country.”
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