Politics

Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, declares racism a public health ‘epidemic’


Racism isn’t just immoral, it’s also an “epidemic” and a public-health threat for the CDC to address.

That’s according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who vowed in a Thursday statement to spend more in non-White areas to counter that threat.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said that over the past year the COVID-19 epidemic had “illuminated inequities … and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.”

The CDC chief said that “What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans … [and] as the nation’s leading public health agency, CDC has a critical role to play to address the impact of racism on public health.”

In a series of bullet points, Dr. Walensky committed her disease-fighting agency to a number of financial and other measures, including a new web portal, Racism and Health, that’s intended to “serve as a catalyst for public and scientific discourse around racism and health.”

The other three bullet points are research to “expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health”; to use COVID-19 funding for “making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country”; and affirmative action.

“We are expanding our internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all,” Dr. Walensky added.




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