Washington, DC — On a press call this afternoon, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) along with Protect Our Care discussed the glaring racial disparities in the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Communities of color have disproportionately suffered the brunt of the virus and stand to lose the most as a result of the administration’s botched effort to contain its spread. Senators Durbin and Duckworth, Rep. Kelly and Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach also addressed a new report released by Protect Our Care on how African Americans are far more likely to face barriers to accessing health care and how Trump’s war on health care, particularly his lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act would devastate African American communities during this crisis.
“The racial health disparities we face today are the result of decades-long divestment and dis-enfranchisement in communities of color,” said Senator Durbin. “The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities, reminding us once again of the unacceptable and devastating inequalities in our country’s health care system. It is important, now more than ever, that we ensure that all communities—especially families of color—continue to have access to critical health care coverage.”
“The awful truth is that in Illinois, COVID-19 isn’t yesterday’s nightmare—it’s still today’s reality. And that’s especially true in communities of color where this pandemic has hit the hardest as too many folks in power choose to avert their eyes,” said Senator Duckworth. “The way this public health emergency is impacting minorities—especially Black Americans—and the statistics of these outcomes that we’ve seen from the West and South Sides of Chicago are shocking, but they’re not surprising. They’re the horrifyingly predictable consequences of the inequities in our healthcare, economic and environmental protection systems that have plagued communities of color for far too long. As we move toward passing a fourth phase of relief, I will do everything I can to make sure vulnerable communities get the resources, help and justice they deserve.”
“Since Illinois and other states started reporting the COVID-19 racial data it was shocking to see the numbers of Black people dying but not surprising because of the history of racial disparities,” said Representative Kelly. “To those of us who have worked on health disparities and access issues we know that any pandemic would have a disproportionate impact on more vulnerable communities and communities frankly that are on the frontlines to essential workers, and that is a section that speaks to a lot of the African American communities. This is America and we’re all Americans and there shouldn’t be a two-tiered system but generations of health disparities, inequities and a lack of access to care have actually created two Americas. Even before COVID-19, we lived in a nation in which the zip code in which you are born determines how long and how well you live. If we want to end these disparities we need to invest the resources in the communities suffering from them and empowering those communities to build a better future.”
“The Trump administration has failed to adequately address the unique challenges facing vulnerable African American communities during this crisis,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “African Americans are more likely than other constituencies to face barriers to accessing health care and face the brunt of the pandemic’s financial consequences, and the president’s years-long war on health care has only exacerbated these disparities. Instead of trying to rip away health care and cut access to critical programs like Medicaid and Medicare, President Trump should be focused on expanding access to health care for American Americans who have suffered disproportionately as a result of the administration’s disastrous response and health care sabotage.”