CHICAGO | April 29, 2020
In response to emerging data showing higher rates of COVID-19 impacts among minorities, American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer shared the following statement:
“As we learn more about rates of COVID-19 among minority populations, two things are emerging: minorities are experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19-related illness and death, and we need more attention and resources to address this inequality and support the health of minority communities.
“CDC found black people were disproportionately hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, and both Hispanic and black people had a substantially higher death rate than white or Asian people. Data remains largely unavailable for smaller groups, including people who are American Indian and Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders. This limits the ability to identify impacts for these individuals even though they may be at high risk due to underlying disparities.
“As our nation faces this pandemic, the American Lung Association calls on CDC to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 on minority populations is completely tracked, adequately addressed, and steps are taken to support the health of minority populations and communities.
“While there is certainly more to learn about COVID-19 and its impact on minority populations, the factors that contribute toward this disparity are well known. COVID-19 underscores the health disparities that far too many Americans face. Access to quality and affordable healthcare, exposure to environmental hazards such as air pollution, and lack of access to resources all play a role in making far too many Americans more vulnerable to poor health, pre-existing conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and as a result – the more severe effects of COVID-19.
“Quality and affordable healthcare that includes preventative care is essential to protecting the health of all Americans. By reducing preventable diseases and better controlling the symptoms of asthma and other lung diseases, we can save more lives not only during this pandemic but perhaps also the next.
“Minority populations are disproportionately exposed to air pollution, which harms health and may make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. A recent study from Harvard’s Chan School of Medicine indicates that long-term exposure to even small amounts of particle pollution can increase the death rate associated with COVID-19 by 15% [following publication of our statement, the researchers updated their analysis with a revised finding of an 8% increase in the COVID-19 death rate, rather than 15% increase].
“The American Lung Association will continue to champion the health of all Americans, and ensure everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare, clean air and tobacco-free communities.”
Learn more about COVID-19 and lung health at Lung.org/covid19. More information about the American Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative and how to support this effort may be found at Lung.org/cv19-action.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about COVID-19 and lung health, contact Stephanie Goldina at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7629.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.