Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday ‘inequality is a pre-existing condition’ as the coronavirus continues to ravage African American communities.
The Democrat, appearing on The View, told the panel it’s ‘no surprise’ the vulnerable are being worst hit by the pandemic.
Early data from U.S. states shows African Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19, highlighting longstanding disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care, experts said.
AOC added: ‘Ultimately, it’s inequality that’s the preexisting condition. You can’t just go to someone and tell them, “Hey. You should have had health care this whole time when you’re working an hourly job and your employer doesn’t give it to you”.’
Ocasio-Cortez said: ‘When a pandemic like this hits or even any natural disaster like a hurricane, like what we saw in hurricane Katrina or hurricane Maria, they don’t happen in a vacuum, they happen when communities are disproportionately located on the front line.
‘Here in New York City, about 55 per cent of our front line workers, including grocery store workers, delivery workers and more, are black and brown.’
‘It’s tragic, but it is also no surprise that it’s impacting the vulnerable the most.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, said Wednesday ‘inequality is a pre-existing condition’ as she appeared on The View, telling the panel it’s ‘no surprise’ the vulnerable are being worst hit
As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, data collected the week of Apirl 5 shows it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through black Americans
President Donald Trump and the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, acknowledged the higher death rate among African Americans during a White House briefing earlier this month.
Trump called it a ‘tremendous challenge’.
AOC last week said she wants black and brown communities to get coronavirus reparations, because a history of inequality has left them at higher risk of suffering from the deadly virus.
A New York City map using data as of April 7 showed that there are higher numbers of cases of coronavirus in poorer New York neighborhoods than in wealthier zip codes.
On Wednesday, discussing Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, AOC added: ‘My community especially has been so impacted, and it’s, you know, for a lot of communities, this is an issue of life and death.
‘We have had kids in cages. We have had a pandemic response that happened way too late that has cost us lives. We have people that don’t have access to critical care that they need. I think it’s really important that we rally behind our Democratic nominee in November.’
AOC last week said she wants black and brown communities to get coronavirus reparations, because a history of inequality has left them at higher risk of suffering from the deadly virus
Data as of April 7 showed that AOC’s district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, has been among the hardest hit by coronavirus in New York City
AOC’s district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, has been among the hardest hit by coronavirus in New York City.
She told The View: ‘Everyone wants to fight against these policies until they have been personally impacted.
‘I think that vulnerability, that personal vulnerability, really brings a lot of people around, and what we’re seeing right now is that guaranteeing health care in this country is not about giving charity to people. It affects all of us.’
A history of systemic racism and inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity has made many African Americans far more vulnerable to the virus.
Black adults suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, which make them more susceptible, and also are more likely to be uninsured. They also often report that medical professionals take their ailments less seriously when they seek treatment.
They are also overrepresented among workers like nurse aides, grocery store clerks, emergency dispatchers and public transportation employees who cannot telecommute.
That forces them out into the general public at a time when others are under strict stay-at-home orders.
Dr. Summer Johnson McGee, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, said she was not surprised the U.S. black population is experiencing a worse outcome during the pandemic.
Racism has led to a lack of investment in African American communities and worse health care for the population in general, McGee said.