Advocacy groups request administration take equity steps in pandemic response

April 20, 2020

Michael Karlik, Colorado Politics

Over 130 individuals and advocacy groups, including state and local elected officials, have responded to the state’s decision to release racial demographic data for COVID-19 infections by requesting a series of steps to assist communities of color.

“COVID-19 has laid bare the vast inequalities that plague the country and this state,” read the letter from groups including the Colorado People’s Alliance, Colorado AFL-CIO and Conservation Colorado. Colorado Politics reported on April 14 that black residents are approximately 75% likelier to get sick with and die from COVID-19 than whites. Latinos are also disproportionately affected, but not to the same extent as African Americans.

The group’s requests of Gov. Jared Polis include tracking complaints about potential discrimination in the healthcare system and establishing a hotline for workers who allege that their employers are flouting public health guidelines or not providing protective equipment to workers.

Creating financial assistance for undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for federal and state economic relief is also a suggestion, along with the creation of an equity response team to monitor all aspects of pandemic operations.

The requests found support from multiple legislators.

“To address the impact that generational oppression has had on the health of black, brown and immigrant communities,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, “we need to expand the data collected on race and ethnicity, allow patients to report health disparities to a centralized hotline, and provide financial support to Coloradans callously left out of the federal COVID-19 response.”

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