Did the CDC Say Racism Is a Threat to Public Health?

The CDC director issued a statement in early April 2021 discussing the unequal impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

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The CDC called racism "a serious public health threat."


On April 8, 2021, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published a statement in which she said, “racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans.”

In the statement, Walensky discussed the unequal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color, stating that those disparities weren’t the result of the virus but instead, “the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.”

CDC data shows that Hispanic or Latino, Black, and indigenous people had higher-than-average likelihoods of contracting COVID-19, of being hospitalized, and of dying from it.

Walensky’s statement includes a bullet-point outline of what the CDC plans to do to address the issue, including continued research and investments into communities of color “establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.”