|US working to improve healtth of vulnerable citizens duing pandemic|
|Administration understands racial, social disparities|
|Published Wednesday, June 24, 2020 6:56 pm|
|U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams M.D.|
The writer is U.S. surgeon general.
The recent article, “HHS Secretary Alex Azar to Black America: Pandemic’s your fault,” (National Section, June 10) paints an inaccurate and unfair picture of current administration efforts to address COVID-19 in the Black community.
I can assure you each of the administration’s public health leaders—especially Health and Human Services Secretary Azar—recognizes the tragically disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black Americans, is working tirelessly to improve the health of vulnerable communities throughout this pandemic and beyond, and fully acknowledges that we have much work to do.
As Secretary Azar said in the quoted interview, recognizing the health disparities that burden black America is essential to addressing COVID-19, and building a healthier country. It doesn’t amount to blaming anyone for his or her health conditions; it’s a first step toward addressing them.
Growing up Black, rural, and poor, I’ve known personally the economic and health disparities people of color face. As surgeon general and a member of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, I can say that focusing on the “social” determinants of health many minority communities face has been core to our strategy for beating COVID-19.
We’re boosting testing and data reporting in communities of color, including through a new requirement that all testing data include information on race, ethnicity, and ZIP code so we can focus efforts on the hardest-hit communities. Of nearly 500 community-based testing sites we’ve helped establish across America, 68% are in disadvantaged areas. The federal government covers COVID-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured. And last week, the administration allocated about $25 billion to Medicaid and safety net providers, who are vital in serving minority communities.
Better health begins in our homes and communities, and HHS and the Coronavirus Task Force have prioritized making sure every American has the information they need to protect themselves. A national strategy is being implemented to help ensure information and resources are tailored specifically to minority communities. Recognizing the importance of economic development to health, the President has also tasked Secretary Carson’s White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council to focus on uplifting vulnerable communities in the economic recovery from COVID-19.
The past several weeks have reminded us how badly Americans need, deserve, and want a more equal and just country. This Administration’s health leaders believe that applies to health and healthcare, too.
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