Durbin, Duckworth, Kelly discuss disparities in COVID-19 pandemic

Durbin, Duckworth, Kelly discuss disparities in COVID-19 pandemic

Three Illinois congressional members called Wednesday for a more robust federal response to address racial disparities highlighted by COVID-19.

During a conference call Wednesday with left-leaning Protect Our Care, Illinois Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, said they have been concerned with the response by the Trump administration related to the pandemic’s impact on minority communities.

It comes as a report released Wednesday by the coalition found African Americans account for 24 percent of COVID-19 deaths where race is known, despite comprising only 13 percent of the population. They are also more likely to have chronic illnesses that make them more susceptible to the virus, as well as jobs where they are unable to work remotely.

“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,” Duckworth said. “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.”

Kelly said the current pandemic is reflective of the inadequacies in healthcare in black and brown communities that have existed long before COVID-19.

“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,” she said.

The lawmakers also said the pandemic highlights why it is important for the Affordable Care Act to be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court is scheduled to review a lower court’s ruling on the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which was found unconstitutional.

“It is important, now more than ever, that we ensure that all communities, especially families of color, continue to have access to critical healthcare coverage,” Durbin said.


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