February 26, 2021

Cortez Masto Joins Efforts to Reduce Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccine Response

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today joined U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in reintroducing the updated COVID-19 Health Disparities Action Act that would support targeted and culturally competent public awareness campaigns about COVID-19 vaccines and preventative measures such as masking and social distancing. These campaigns would specifically target communities disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including racial and ethnic minority populations.

“We know that communities of color in Nevada and across the country have been disproportionately affected when it comes to COVID-19 infection rates, deaths, and now, vaccine access. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, and our solutions to addressing the pandemic shouldn’t either. That is why I’m proud to introduce this bill alongside my colleagues to reduce the growing inequities in underserved communities and to ensure an equitable recovery for all communities as we continue to navigate ourselves out of this pandemic.”

BACKGROUND:

In Washoe county, preliminary data shows that communities of color are being vaccinated at lower rates than their share of the population. According to the Nevada Health Response website data dashboard, less than 12% of vaccines have gone to Latinos, while they make up about a third of the population. Black Nevadans accounted for less than 5% of doses which is far lower than their nearly 9% share of the state’s residents. White Nevadans made up more than 57% of vaccine recipients, but represent less than half of the overall population.

Since the start of the pandemic, Senator Cortez Masto has called for greater equity in our COVID-19 response. Last year, she introduced the COVID-19 Health Disparities Action Act of 2020, legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop an action plan to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among communities of color. Recently, the senator spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of doing more to support Nevada’s Tribes and tribal communities in upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation.                            

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