For immediate release: February 10, 2021
Washington, DC—Today the National Consumers League applauds the Biden’s Administration’s focus on addressing health disparities in its national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equality is a clear and welcome indication that the health and well-being of racial and ethnic minority communities is a priority for this administration,” said NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras. “We are also encouraged by the fact that the leadership within the Biden Administration is the most ethnically diverse in our nation’s history. Our nation’s leaders can no longer turn a blind eye to the consequences of racial inequality on the health and economic status of people of color. As a result, the White House Domestic Policy Council is being tasked with applying a racial equity lens to all policies impacting the American people.”
The White House COVID-19 response plan has called for the establishment of a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to provide oversight on disparities in the public health and economic response. The Administration has also demonstrated its commitment to racial equity by establishing that the COVID-19 Task Force will become a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force after the pandemic has ended.
In order to address health disparities and implement an equitable response to the pandemic, advocates argue it is critical that race and ethnicity data be collected. President Biden’s plan calls for the creation of a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that provides real-time data on key metrics, such as cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a public dashboard tracking transmission rates by zip code.
“Current reporting of transmission rates reveals the inconsistent collection of data across the country—data that is incredibly important to decision-making across all aspects of daily life,” said Contreras. For example, school boards across the country rely on local transmission data to base their decisions on when it’s safe to return to in-person instruction, and city officials rely on this data to decide when to allow indoor dining at restaurants.
Access to testing will remain a vital tool in curbing the pandemic. The Administration has pledged to double the number of drive-through testing sites to alleviate the long lines and shortages that characterized the pandemic in 2020. As remotely-functioning employees return to worksites, there will be an ongoing need for employee testing. President Biden’s plan calls for a Pandemic Testing Board that will ensure the production of testing supplies meets the increased demand. Advocates welcomed the Administration’s swift enactment of the Defense Production Act to produce more vaccination supplies, at-home tests, and personal protective equipment.
“The lack of leadership from the Trump Administration left state and local health officials essentially flying blindly without data to inform their decisions,” said Contreras. “We are facing the consequences today, with evidence that communities of color are being vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates than their white counterparts. The Biden Administration’s COVID-19 plan offers federal officials a comprehensive framework for coordinating an equitable response to the pandemic. The National Consumers League applauds this Administration in its foresight and intention to build trust in communities of color to ensure our most vulnerable populations are not ignored moving forward.”
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.