PHILADELPHIA, May 4, 2020 – This past week, as City Council convened virtually to receive Mayor Jim Kenney’s revised budget proposal in light of the economic havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of members introduced legislation specific to mitigating and examining the effects of Coronavirus across the board.
Among these was a joint resolution introduced by Councilmember Derek S. Green (At-Large), Chair of the Committee for People with Disabilities & Special Needs, and Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), Chair of the Committee on Public Health & Human Services, to hold joint hearings on the racial and ableist disparities that already exist within black and brown communities, but that have been amplified by the virus.
As recent statistics have shown, COVID-19 poses significant risk to the most vulnerable populations that include seniors, the disabled and individuals with preexisting or underlying conditions. Historically, chronic health issues like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, affect minorities at a disproportionately higher rate than predominately white populations. The devastation of COVID-19 has only exacerbated this data as many are at increased risk of contracting the virus due to possible exposure on the job as one of our many essential workers or inability to work from home, lack of access to quality healthcare and also lack of access to testing.
“We continue to see the disturbing rise in number of deaths from COVID-19, which in many cases across the country, are made up largely by African Americans. Early last month as states began releasing racial data, the New York Times reported that in Louisiana, although blacks only make up 33 percent of the population, they comprised 70 percent of Coronavirus-related deaths in the state,” said Councilmember Green. “This is unacceptable and cannot go unaddressed. If
we are going to beat this, it must be an equitable fight that yields equitable solutions for everyone.”
“The Coronavirus has impacted all of our City’s communities but also un-masked healthcare disparities and poorer outcomes in African-American communities, and how it can’t be tolerated,” said Councilwoman Bass. “This pandemic has raised healthcare questions we must address to make a positive change for all.”
A date for hearings to begin has not yet been announced. A copy of the full resolution is available to view here.