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CDC Director Declares Racism a Public Health Threat

In a statement last week, an official in the Biden administration declared racism a serious public health threat. The statement came from Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Walensky wrote the COVID-19 public health crisis disproportionately affected communities of color but noted the disparities seen over the past year are not a result of the pandemic. Instead, it brought to light unaddressed, significant inequities already present for generations.

Walensky outlined CDC’s efforts to mitigate the impact of racism on public health, including:

  • studying the impact of social determinants of health on outcomes and further studying how racism impacts health;
  • expanding investments related to COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities;
  • expanding internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all; and
  • launching a new web portal.

America’s Essential Hospitals is aligned with CDC in its efforts to fight racism and address health inequities. The association applauds Walensky’s clear statement on systemic racism as a serious public health threat and her commitment to devoting more resources to easing the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on communities of color.

For information about how essential hospitals address social and economic factors that influence health and quality of life, visit essentialcommunities.org and review our collection of antiracism resources.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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