Durbin Raises Racial & Ethnic Disparity In COVID-19 Pandemic During Call With CDC Director

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield about the alarming disparities among communities of color in COVID-19 mortality.  During the call, Durbin mentioned his Chicago HEAL Initiative and a letter he sent to Dr. Redfield last week about funding for state and local efforts to bolster community workforce capacity for contact tracing and other outreach efforts in addressing this public health challenge. 

Durbin also pressed Dr. Redfield for information on how CDC will help protect meat-processing plant workers in light of President Trump’s recent Executive Order forcing these facilities to remain open, as well as the ongoing inadequacy of coronavirus testing capacity, and the Trump Administration’s decision to refrain from international commitments to work together to accelerate the development of new vaccines, tests, and treatments for COVID-19.

“On my call with CDC Director Redfield, I expressed my concern over the drastic racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths, and emphasized the need to tackle the underlying public health gaps that are magnifying these health consequences,” Durbin said.  “We must take action, both now and in the future, to address the inequities of this great nation when it comes to health care.”

Durbin has led efforts in Illinois to address health disparities through community engagement with the Chicago HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership) Initiative.  Together with 10 of the largest hospitals serving the Chicago area and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), Durbin launched the Chicago HEAL Initiative to reduce violence and improve health by using the economic footprint, community engagement, and clinical expertise of hospitals to address neighborhood-level issues that impact health, including local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and mental health activities.