During a virtual commencement address for Emory University on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that minorities were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic partially because of the “the undeniable effects of racism” in America.
The chief medical advisor to the president explained that people of color are more likely to get infected because of their concentration in essential industries. He added that minorities are also more likely to develop serious adverse consequences due to the underlying health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, trending in their communities.
“Almost all co-morbidities relate to social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that people of color find themselves in from birth, regarding the ability of an adequate diet, access to healthcare, and the undeniable effects of racism,” Fauci continued.
The doctor did not cite any evidence to substantiate his claim that race — and not socioeconomic status — was the main driver of disproportionately high COVID rates in certain communities. He emphasized that COVID has spotlighted society’s shortcomings with regards to the intersection of public health and social justice issues.
“Our country’s experience with COVID-19 has not only upended our own lives but it has uncovered a stark reality and failing of our own society. The unacceptable disparities in health experiences by minority groups, especially African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans,” Fauci commented.
A poll from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated that minority small businesses also struggled disproportionately with maintaining revenue streams and keeping their doors open amid the sweeping lockdowns and COVID restrictions mandated by state governments. Republican-dominated state legislatures have received criticism from Democratic states for relaxing regulations and resuming business activity.
“Let us promise ourselves our memory of this tragic reality – that an infectious disease disparately hospitalizes and kills people of color – does not fade after we return to some form of normality. Righting this wrong will take a decades-long commitment. I strongly urge you to be part of that commitment,” Fauci said to the graduates.