The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared racism a "serious public health threat", as COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect communities of color, according to a report by USA Today.
Communities of color were severely affected by the coronavirus and were facing higher case counts and deaths compared to other races, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on April 8.
"Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community," said Walensky.
Members of Black, American Indian or Alaska native, Hispanic and Asian communities were up to 2.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white patients, according to the CDC.
These same groups also were up to 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized from the virus.
Walensky said the disparities exposed through the pandemic put a spotlight on a consistent underlying issue – racism – in the U.S..
"Confronting the impact of racism will not be easy. I know that we can meet this challenge," Walensky said.