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Hassan, Shaheen join colleagues in introducing legislation to help address COVID-19 racial disparities

By Staff | Jul 25, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined a group of their Senate colleagues in introducing the COVID-19 Health Disparities Action Act to help address the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color. The bill would require targeted testing, contact tracing, public awareness campaigns, and outreach efforts specifically directed at communities of color and other populations that have been made vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation is led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

“People of color represent 10 percent of New Hampshire’s population, but 25 percent of our COVID-19 cases – and similar health care disparities have existed for far too long,” Senator Hassan said. “I recently spoke with public health leaders in New Hampshire about the racial disparities in health care outcomes and this legislation is a good first step to help address these unacceptable inequities in our health care system.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted communities of color and has highlighted the systemic inequality these communities experience,” said Senator Shaheen. “As our country faces an overdue reckoning on how we pursue meaningful structural change, prioritizing the health and well-being of communities of color amid this crisis must be a top concern. This legislation will modify response efforts to best serve diverse populations on the frontlines of this pandemic and in future health crises. Safeguarding the health and safety of our most vulnerable Granite Staters and Americans during this pandemic must be a top priority in Congress.”

Hassan recently met with New Hampshire public health care leaders to discuss racial inequities in health care outcomes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants discussed a range of factors that contribute to why communities of color in New Hampshire make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

The COVID-19 Health Disparities Action Act would:

• Require the Trump administration to develop an action plan to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other vulnerable populations.

• Require states to revise testing and contact tracing plans to address racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other vulnerable populations experiencing health disparities related to COVID-19.

• Authorize the development of targeted public awareness campaigns about COVID-19 symptoms, testing, and treatment directed at racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other socially vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

• Ensure that federally funded contact-tracing efforts are tailored to the racial and ethnic diversity of local communities.

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