Percentage of Positive Tests Among People Tested by Race/Ethnicity: White=2%, American Indian/Alaska Native=3%, Asian=3%, Black=4%, Hispanic=6%Racism is a public health crisis. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many, many other Black folks have been murdered by police, and we stand against this police violence. In our blog post earlier this month, we elaborated on how racism is a public health crisis and how fighting for racial justice is essential, even in a pandemic.

Inequities in COVID-19 in Dane County have become more apparent as testing has become more available through the Alliant Energy Center. The percent of COVID-19 cases who are Black is now three times higher and the percent of cases who are Hispanic is 2.3 times higher than what it should be given population size. These inequities also exist when looking at hospitalization rates. We are also seeing a higher percent positive rate for Hispanic individuals than any other group. Our latest brief on Race and COVID-19 illustrates these disparities.

Inequities in COVID-19 are a result of systemic racism, and therefore require systemic action. Communities of color are overrepresented in low wage service sector jobs, leading to a higher chance of exposure to COVID-19, and are less likely to have health insurance, paid leave, and a livable wage. Without those things, people can’t get healthcare when they’re sick, or take off of work without risking being fired. While the fight to correct injustices will be ongoing, we can immediately respond to some of these inequities by providing free and accessible COVID-19 testing to people who need it the most.

We are working with local organizations to create pop-up testing sites that are more accessible. We are also investigating how we can provide long-term COVID-19 testing in our community once the Alliant site is closed.

We don’t think we’d see these COVID-19 inequities if we had a society that valued black lives, Latinx lives, indigenous lives, and all people of color’s lives. The time for more research, pondering, statistics, and committees is over. We need to do better, and we need our lawmakers and leaders in every sector to do better, for the sake of public health and start creating a system that actually values Black lives. We can start by working on the issues we outlined above and continue by listening and responding to the people of color who are demanding change for our communities.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.