GW Emergency Medicine Fellow and U.S. Representative Publish Policy Solutions to Reverse the 'Colorblind' Public Health Response to COVID-19
While COVID-19 has affected people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities, the burdens of infection, morbidity, and mortality have not been borne equally. As data has accumulated from across the nation, a disturbing, yet not surprising, pattern has emerged: cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have disproportionally affected communities of color.
Marisa K. Dowling, MD, MPP, health policy fellow in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, calls this a “crisis within a crisis” in a viewpoint article recently published in JAMA. Dowling co-authored the article with U.S. Rep. Robin L. Kelly, PhD (D-Ill.).
Dowling and Kelly call for an immediate response to improve the frequency and quality of data on race related to COVID-19. They also highlight legislative action that calls for daily updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on race and COVID-19; the creation of a task force to focus on health disparities and COVID-19; targeted grant funding to community-based organizations responding to the pandemic; free testing and treatment for COVID-19 patients, and more.
Long term, Dowling and Kelly believe meaningful action must be taken to improve health care access, medical workforce diversity, bias training, minority community engagement, research prioritizing the needs of communities of color, and a comprehensive strategy targeting the social determinants of health. The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 (HR 6637), introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, provides a comprehensive policy roadmap to closing health gaps for those facing barriers to care.
“Policy Solutions for Reversing the Color-blind Public Health Response to COVID-19 in the US” was published in JAMA.