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CDC plan keys on virus inequities

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CDC plan keys on virus inequities

Healthcare worker Rahaana Smith instructs passengers how to use a nasal swab, Friday, July 24, 2020, at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, in Miami. Florida has experienced a sharp increase in coronavirus deaths over the past two weeks, including another 136 recorded Friday as the state’s total confirmed cases topped 400,000. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) NEW YORK — Federal public-health officials have released a new strategy that vows to improve data collection and take steps to address inequalities in how the coronavirus is affecting Americans.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress that the disproportionately high impact on certain minority groups is not driven by genetics. Rather, it’s social conditions that make some ethnic groups more likely to be exposed to the virus and — if they catch it — more likely to get seriously ill.

"To just name racial and ethnic groups without contextualizing what contributes to the risk has the potential to be stigmatizing and victimizing," said the CDC’s Leandris Liburd, who two months ago was named chief health equity officer in the agency’s coronavirus response.

Outside experts agreed that there’s a lot of potential downside to labeling certain racial and ethnic groups as high risk.

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"You have to be very careful that you don’t do it in such a way that you’re defining a whole class of people as ‘covid carriers.’" said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

American Indians and Native Alaskans are hospitalized at rates more than five times that of white people. The hospitalization rate for Black and Hispanic Americans is more than four times […]

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