Waterbury, CT – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) issued the following statement following the news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared racism as a serious threat to public health and said it would take steps to address the matter – mirroring a resolution introduced by Congresswoman Hayes in the 116th Congress declaring racism a public health crisis.
“The CDC has formally acknowledged the concerns expressed in my bill; that communities of color have been harmed for generations – and more so during this pandemic – because of structural inequities and disparities. COVID-19 has made clear that urgent action is needed to remove conscious and unconscious bias and overt racism from our health care system,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
“This announcement makes clear that this administration is serious about addressing and dismantling the systemic inequities that have plagued our health care system. I look forward to continue to working with this administration to make health care more affordable, more accessible, and more just for all.”
Last year, Congresswoman Hayes introduced a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. Congresswoman Hayes plans to reintroduce this legislation in the coming weeks, to commemorate National Minority Health Month.
The CDC, the nation’s largest public health agency, joins a number of other groups that have done the same. According to the American Public Health Association, more than 170 local and state leaders, as well as public health entities, have declared racism a public health crisis or emergency. With this declaration, the CDC will take steps to tackle racism in public health. The agency is using funding from the American Rescue Plan, and other COVID-19 relief aid to invest in communities of color, as well as other disproportionately affected groups, to address the disparities.
The average life expectancy of African Americans is four years lower than the rest of the U.S. population. Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women. Minority groups suffer from asthma at a disproportionate rate, have the highest number of emergency room visits and hospital stays due to asthma, and have higher mortality rates from asthma than their white counterparts. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics are 40 percent more likely to die from diabetes, African Americans are twice as likely to die from diabetes, and American Indians/Alaska Natives are almost twice as likely to die from the disease.
Congresswoman Hayes worked hard during her first term to reduce inequities in our health care system. Last April, Congresswoman Hayes introduced H.R. 6638, the Reducing COVID-19 Disparities by Investing in Public Health Act. This bill will reduce persistent racial health disparities that have long existed – and have been exacerbated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by doubling the federal investment in the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Fund at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to $2.4 billion.
Congresswoman Hayes is also a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, and helped introduce H.R. 6142, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.