[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 194 (Monday, November 16, 2020)]
[House]
[Pages H5750-H5760]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  2015
              CORONAVIRUS' IMPACT ON MINORITY COMMUNITIES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Casten of Illinois). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2019, the gentlewoman from California 
(Ms. Lee) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority 
leader.


                             General Leave

  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of our Special 
Order tonight.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from California?
  There was no objection.

[[Page H5751]]

  

  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, first, I thank the chair of our 
Congressional Black Caucus. I thank Chairwoman Bass, who has helped us 
organize this tonight, for her leadership of the Congressional Black 
Caucus.
  I join with my colleagues to speak on the impact of COVID-19, the 
pandemic which has had an especially disparate impact on communities of 
color.
  First, again, let me thank Chairwoman Bass, Chairwoman Chu, and 
Congressman Castro of the Tri-Caucus, as well as Representatives Kelly, 
Haaland, and Davids, for working together to ensure that we address the 
disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of 
color--also, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia.
  It is really very imperative that our strategy to crush COVID 
intentionally includes provisions to support the specific needs of our 
communities.
  I also want to take a moment to thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairman 
Pallone for negotiating some of the provisions of our COVID Community 
Care Act, that is H.R. 8192, in our Heroes bill, which further 
strengthens efforts to engage medically underserved communities in the 
latest version, again, of the Heroes bill.
  I thank Chairman Scott and, of course, our subcommittee chair, Rosa 
DeLauro, for their support, their input, and their assistance in 
getting this bill, the COVID Community Care Act, really very targeted, 
very focused, and something that all of us could support as a Tri-
Caucus, also--and, of course, Speaker Pelosi, again, for her steadfast 
understanding and support for this issue.
  Now, millions of people have suffered incomprehensible grief and 
hardship due to the COVID pandemic. Just in the United States, we now 
have over 10.3 million cases of COVID-19 and over 240,000 deaths. That 
is mind-boggling.
  We are here today to insist that any coronavirus response addresses 
the needs of people of color. This is because the impacts of the 
pandemic and the economic fallout have had a disproportionate impact on 
African Americans, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander, and 
immigrant communities. We have witnessed the horrific result of how 
longstanding inequities stemming from structural racism has exacerbated 
COVID's threats to people of color.
  Black people are dying at more than twice the rate of White people in 
the United States. Indigenous and Latinx people are both 50 percent 
more likely to die from COVID than White Americans. Between January and 
July, the AAPI death rate rose 35 percent compared to an increase of 9 
percent for White Americans.
  The Federal Government must address the vicious cycle of disparities 
that drive these unequal impacts on communities of color, especially 
during the COVID-19 crisis. That is why we introduced, together, H.R. 
8192, the COVID Community Care Act, legislation to ensure that any 
effort to fight the pandemic engages local communities as partners in 
crushing the virus.
  This bill, supported by our Tri-Caucus colleagues, ensures that any 
testing and tracing efforts engage communities of color where they live 
with trusted messengers who speak their language and know their unique 
challenges.
  Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone worked with us to add language to 
Chairman Pallone's $75 billion CONTACT plan. This is included in the 
revised version of the Heroes Act passed October 1, which will further 
strengthen efforts to engage communities of color.
  The strengthened CONTACT plan mandates that community-based 
organizations and nonprofits in medically underserved communities play 
an important role to reach those communities that public health 
agencies have difficulty engaging. It ensures the people hired to 
conduct the outreach have experience and relationships with people 
living in the communities that they serve.
  Turning a blind eye to the American people's desperate need for 
culturally rooted contact tracing and testing will result in increased 
deaths and illnesses that we could have prevented.
  We must build a relief package that addresses the needs of millions, 
especially Black and Brown people, who are suffering disproportionately 
from this virus.
  Mr. Speaker, we thank our Speaker for her persistence, leadership, 
and fighting spirit to ensure that lawmakers acknowledge and respond to 
the racial and ethnic disparities that have plagued our Nation for 
centuries.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Garcia), who 
played an important role in making sure that the Latinx community and 
all the Hispanic issues, as it relates to COVID, were included as a 
part of this bill.
  Ms. GARCIA of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Lee and the 
caucuses involved for putting this Special Order together.
  Today in America, there is not one State that has the pandemic under 
control. My own State of Texas became the first State to surpass 1 
million cases.
  Let me repeat that: 1 million cases.
  These cases represent many of our neighbors, our friends, and our own 
family. I personally have self-quarantined once and have already been 
tested four times for different times I have been exposed to someone 
with the virus.
  Thank God all tests have come back positive--I am sorry, negative. I 
meant to say, ``not come back positive.'' Little misspeaking there.
  Mr. Speaker, this pandemic is affecting everyone, but it is not 
affecting everyone in the same way. Black and Latino communities are 
bearing the weight of this pandemic. While Black and Latino people are 
being hospitalized and dying at higher rates than White people, they 
are also the ones most likely to be working jobs that put them more at 
risk.
  They have always been essential workers. Now more than ever, this is 
sadly more true. They are meatpacking workers, farmworkers, sanitation 
workers, custodians, restaurant workers, grocery clerks, postal 
workers, police officers, firefighters, longshoremen. These aren't jobs 
you can do from home. If you don't show up, you just don't get paid.
  Black and Latino families have had to go into work even when it meant 
they may get sick. And many of them have gotten sick. Even worse, many 
infected a loved one with the virus.
  America depends on these workers to put food on our tables and keep 
us safe. Because our leaders didn't take any steps to prepare us for 
this pandemic, we can't even offer the protective gear needed to keep 
essential frontline workers safe.
  So while we are asking these communities to go to work every day 
without the proper protections, we also know that Latino and Black 
Americans are more likely to have health conditions, like asthma and 
diabetes, that make the virus even more dangerous.
  Nationwide, Latinos make up 55 percent of the COVID cases and 24 
percent of the overall deaths. Yet, we are only 18.5 percent of the 
total U.S. population. In Texas, Latinos are about 40 percent of the 
population, but we are nearly 55 percent of the deaths--more than half, 
Mr. Speaker. In Houston, sadly, Latinos account for 54 percent of the 
deaths caused by this virus--again, more than half.
  My district, which is nearly 80 percent Latino, was one of the 
hardest hit areas in the Houston region. But despite these numbers, 
many of my constituents are still scared of getting tested or even 
seeing the doctor. Many don't have health insurance. Others don't trust 
our healthcare system. Many more are undocumented and fear deportation.
  Mr. Speaker, now, I am optimistic about the future, given some of the 
news about vaccine trials. However, we must make sure, once we have a 
safe and effective vaccine, that it is distributed fairly and equitably 
and that no one is left behind.
  We do not need to repeat the disparate mistakes of the past. As 
elected officials, we must work together to keep all of our 
constituents safe.
  Right now, with the virus rapidly spreading, we are losing precious 
time if we don't act. People will get sick, and even more people will 
die, if we wait any longer.
  Legislation like the Heroes Act provides protections that working 
families and frontline workers need now. It would provide rent relief 
for families who are afraid of losing their homes. It would help our 
schools keep kids healthy and safe for in-person learning.

[[Page H5752]]

It would give local and State governments much-needed relief to retain 
frontline workers on payroll. It would give hardworking families 
another stimulus check. It would also reinstate the supplemental weekly 
$600 in unemployment benefits, a lifeline that helped many families 
stay afloat.
  Lastly, we need to earn the trust of these communities and let them 
know that, yes, they are a part of us. People of color know and must 
know that we are working for them. We cannot save the economy if we 
don't save people first.
  Saving many lives must be our top priority. It will take all of us to 
crush this virus, but I know that we will get together to make sure 
that we are all working together to get past this pandemic, and if we 
do, it will be for all of us. Todos juntos.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for this Special Order.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Garcia very 
much for her input in helping to write the COVID Community Care Act.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. 
DeLauro), my good friend, the chair of the Subcommittee on Labor, 
Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House 
Appropriations Committee.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding to me 
this evening and being here with other colleagues because we know, and 
we have said over and over again, that we face public health and 
economic crises unlike any that our country has seen in a generation.
  More than 245,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Tens of millions 
are out of work. And we know how communities of color have suffered 
acutely and disproportionately.
  While we have known about some of these issues in the past, about the 
inequities in our healthcare system, in our economy, this virus has 
exposed and shone a light on the depths of the injustices and 
inequities that exist for communities of color. While we need to fight 
the virus, we need to fight the virus of injustice.
  In my home State of Connecticut, as of last Thursday, Black people 
accounted for more than 14.5 percent of Connecticut's COVID-related 
deaths when they are just 12 percent of the population.
  Mr. Speaker, 18 percent of COVID cases are Hispanic, outpacing the 17 
percent they make up of our State's population.
  Yet, this data is not perfect, which is why I have been so proud to 
work with my friend and my colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, to 
require the Health and Human Services agency and the Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention to provide Congress with the data on 
which communities are bearing the worst impacts so that we can make 
sure that testing--once we have an administration that takes testing 
strategy seriously--is focused on those communities and that they get 
the resources they need going forward.

  My colleague from California, Congresswoman Lee, has been 
indefatigable in questioning the issue of the data that we have on 
communities of color, and she did this long before we probably could 
spell ``coronavirus.'' To be frank, it is frustrating that we even had 
to put this requirement into law.
  The CDC is complying with the reporting, but we keep a vigilant eye 
on that information. We have more work to do to ensure that we have 
complete data.
  Through November 12, 47 percent of cases had unknown race and 
ethnicity in the CDC's surveillance system. That is just not good 
enough. This moment demands the boldest possible efforts to secure 
affordable healthcare, to address the deep racial disparities exposed 
by this virus, to help families.
  I am proud to chair this subcommittee, which has been central to our 
response to this pandemic and the disparities that it has exposed. 
Together, my colleagues on the committee and on this subcommittee, we 
have appropriated $280 billion in emergency funding for education, for 
health, for working people throughout the pandemic. Through the good 
offices of my colleagues, Congresswoman Lee and Congresswoman Bass, we 
inserted language that would focus on the issue of disparities and how 
we address them. We could add $400 million in the latest iteration of 
The Heroes Act.

                              {time}  2030

  Yet the United States Senate has refused to do anything to help 
struggling Americans and get us to a place where we can test everyone, 
that we can do contact tracing, and that we can provide treatment.
  We know more is needed. So, as I mentioned, the House has passed two 
additional relief packages, and we looked at boosting SNAP benefits by 
15 percent; expanding access to paid leave and paid sick days; and 
expanding and improving the child tax credit for one-third of our 
children, which includes half of Black and Hispanic children, who are 
currently left behind because their families earn too little. If we do 
not address the virus, we will not be able to do anything about turning 
our economy around.
  Let me say a thank-you to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been a 
tireless champion for communities of color, for organizing this Special 
Order. She and I, along with others, are committed to bringing to bear 
the full weight of the Federal Government for the communities of color, 
not only in my district, but around the country, because together we 
can and we must do better. People's lives are depending on it.
  We know what we need to do to save lives. It is incomprehensible that 
we can't get to a protocol which allows us to save people's lives and 
those in communities of color, which are affected the most.
  Ms. LEE of California. Thank you, Chairwoman DeLauro, for your 
statement and for reminding us that we have to address the health and 
economic impacts at the same time. One does not supersede the other. 
Thank you for helping us move our COVID Community Care Act forward with 
your leadership on the subcommittee.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Judy 
Chu), the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, 
someone who contributed to crafting our COVID Community Care Act but 
also whom I have had the pleasure to serve with as co-chair of the 
Healthcare Task Force for CAPAC, a true leader on so many issues.
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, as chair of the 
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am here to say that we 
have reached another terrible milestone. Just yesterday, the number of 
COVID-19 cases in our country surpassed 11 million. One million of 
those cases came in just the last week alone.
  The coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate, and while hospitals and 
healthcare providers in all 50 States are overwhelmed, there is still 
no plan to contain it. The failure to contain the coronavirus has let 
it spread within every State and community.
  Almost one-third of Americans know someone who has died from COVID-
19, and yet we are still hearing false claims, including from some of 
my colleagues on the other side of this Chamber, that masks don't work 
and that gathering in large groups indoors is safe.
  The message that we can or should live with this virus is a denial of 
the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are sick or who have died 
from this virus already, and it is condemning thousands more to die as 
well.
  But not everyone is impacted equally. While all of us are susceptible 
to the virus, communities of color have been disproportionately 
impacted by the Trump administration's inaction. Now that we know more 
about this virus, we can see who is paying more for it.
  Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have seen cases surge in their 
communities and continue to face some of the highest COVID-19 infection 
and mortality rates out of any of the racial groups in several States, 
including in my own State of California.
  And new data shows that Asian Americans are also dying from COVID-19 
at a disproportionate rate, with deaths in the Asian-American community 
nationwide increasing by 35 percent this year compared with the average 
over the last 5 years. This is compared to a 9 percent increase in 
deaths for White Americans.
  For other communities of color, there are equally high rates: for

[[Page H5753]]

Blacks, a 31 percent increase compared to 5 years ago; 44 percent for 
Hispanics; and a 22 percent increase for Native Americans.
  Downplaying this virus is also downplaying the reality of healthcare 
inequality and minority health disparities in this country. That is why 
we crafted an urgently needed COVID-19 response bill: to make us sure 
we can combat the disproportionate effects of coronavirus on 
communities of color.
  That is precisely what the House did in May, with the passage of The 
Heroes Act, and again in October, with the updated Heroes Act, which 
ensured that we collect disaggregated race and ethnicity data related 
to COVID-19 and that we restore Medicaid coverage for citizens of the 
Freely Associated States of the Pacific islands and include provisions 
like Congressmember Barbara Lee's COVID-19 Community Care Act.
  It is so important because it would provide targeted COVID-19 
testing, treatment, and contact tracing for communities of color that 
have been devastated by the pandemic. What is so crucial is that it 
would include culturally and linguistically competent outreach for 
contact tracing that is so critical to the AAPI community.
  Communities of color cannot wait any longer. Americans cannot wait 
any longer. We need the outgoing President and Republicans in Congress 
to stop playing games with American lives. We can't ignore the fact 
that Americans are dying and the economy is struggling because of a 
refusal to take this virus seriously. It is time to face facts and work 
together to pass a coronavirus relief package now.
  Ms. LEE of California. Thank you very much, Chairwoman Chu, and thank 
you for being with us tonight, but also for your consistently sounding 
the alarm to all of us about the necessity for culturally and 
linguistically appropriate services, testing, contact tracing, as well 
as the importance of disaggregating the data based on race and 
ethnicity. Thank you for input into helping to write this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Kelly), 
who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus' Health Braintrust, 
someone who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and 
also a member of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National 
Security and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

  Congresswoman Robin Kelly has helped put together this bill and 
helped make sure that we put provisions in for data collection and all 
of the information that we know we need to be able to target these 
resources.
  So thank you, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, for being here tonight and 
for helping us.
  Ms. KELLY of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to challenge this 
Congress to act to end the shocking health disparities that COVID-19 
has put on display. To date, nearly 250,000 Americans have lost their 
lives to COVID-19 and more than 10 million have been infected. And 
these numbers are still rising.
  Shocking, but not surprisingly, a disproportionate number, as you 
have heard, of those who fought and those who fought and lost battles 
with COVID-19 have been people of color. Once again, another public 
health crisis has taken an oversized toll on Black Americans, Latinx 
Americans, Asian and Pacific Americans, and Native Americans.
  COVID-19 is simply the latest in a long list of diseases, including 
cancer, addiction, HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, diabetes, 
cardiovascular conditions, and on and on and on, with a 
disproportionate impact on communities of color.
  Why does this continue to be the case in America, the greatest, 
richest, most powerful country in the history of our world?
  The answer is simple: health disparities.
  In America, despite all of our technology and pledges to equity, the 
ZIP Code in which you are born is nearly inescapable as a determinant 
of your life, your health, and, yes, even your death.
  In Chicago, part of my district, life expectancy varies up to 30 
years by neighborhood. The pattern is the same across most American 
communities.
  But what are the social determinants of health, or, as I like to say, 
the social determinants of life?
  In short, they are all of the nonmedical factors that impact your 
health, the things you don't necessarily see a doctor for, such as not 
having ample fresh food and vegetables in your diet because there 
aren't any grocery stores in your community; missing routine preventive 
care, such as cancer screenings, because seeing the doctor means 
getting up at 4 a.m., taking two buses, and missing a day of work or 
school.
  It means worrying about manganese or lead poisoning in the air you 
breathe, the water you drink, or the playground where your child plays.
  It means dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression from housing 
instability on top of a recession and pandemic.
  All of these factors decide our lives, our health, and, tragically, 
again, our death. So many of these factors are out of one's individual 
control, including environmental factors, the location of medical 
facilities, discriminatory housing policy, and discrimination and so 
forth.
  We all know these factors have been with us for a long time. They 
have been undermining our health and the health of generations of 
Americans for centuries.
  As we work on these issues, I am continuously reminded of a quote 
from Dr. King: ``Of all of the forms of inequality, injustice in 
healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.''
  Despite 70 years passing and amazing technological and societal 
advancement since he spoke these words, injustice in healthcare, of all 
of the forms of inequality, still remains the most shocking and 
inhumane.
  Right now, we are seeing parallel COVID-19 pandemics: one in 
wealthier, whiter communities, and a much harsher one in vulnerable 
communities of color.
  But this is America. There shouldn't be a two-tiered system, because 
when it comes to public health, we are all in this together.
  The only solution is to root out health disparities at their source. 
We must end systemic racism and a lack of opportunities for low-income 
and minority communities.
  To address these issues in healthcare, my colleague and mentor, 
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, has introduced the COVID Community Care Act, 
H.R. 8192. This legislation, which I am proud to support and my office 
helped develop, will provide grants for community-based organizations 
and nonprofits to conduct testing, tracing, and outreach activities in 
communities.
  Given the number and rates of COVID-19, we know that these resources 
are most urgently needed in communities of color. I believe this 
legislation is central to making health equity a cornerstone of our 
Nation's immediate pandemic response. I am proud to be an original 
cosponsor of this important and immediate-acting legislation.
  Additionally, I have introduced the Ending Health Disparities During 
COVID-19 Act, H.R. 8200, which provides a sweeping approach to 
addressing the widening health disparities from COVID-19. It tackles 
the immediate-term needs of testing, tracing, and public awareness from 
COVID-19.
  But just as crucially, the bill makes long-term investments to build 
a stronger system to reduce and eliminate health inequities in the 
future via investments in the social determinants of health, 
technology, research, workforce diversity, and community health centers 
and workers.
  Lastly, H.R. 8200 makes our government accountable for progress on 
health equity by creating a Federal task force with oversight over 
health disparities during COVID-19 and beyond and protects the Office 
of Minority Health. That is a long list to do, but it is all 
desperately needed.
  I truly feel that this long-term approach, combined with strict 
accountability for health disparities, is exactly what this moment 
calls for. For the first time, many Americans are waking up to the 
reality faced by communities of color, a reality that the Tri-Caucus 
and our fellow Members of Congress, such as champions like 
Representative Barbara Lee, are working to address.
  We need to harness this rightful outrage and catalyze it into action. 
We need to make this the last pandemic to have a disproportionate 
impact on any

[[Page H5754]]

American community, because the fact is Americans deserve a public 
health system that works for all Americans. We deserve to live in one 
America, not an unequal America with worse health outcomes for Black 
and Brown people.
  We all deserve healthcare because healthcare is a human right, yet it 
is not easily won. It must be fought for. As Frederick Douglass taught 
us: ``Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it 
never will.'' The only path forward is for us to demand it.

                              {time}  2045

  We demand action to end health disparities once and for all. We must 
do this by passing the COVID Community Care Act, H.R. 8192; and Ending 
Health Disparities during the COVID-19 Act, H.R. 8200.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Kelly for 
laying out actually what the social determinants of healthcare are. 
Oftentimes, we see that as separate from healthcare, but you laid it 
out perfectly, so thank you for educating us tonight.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), 
who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, but also is a member of the 
Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Native American 
Caucus. I know Congresswoman Jackson Lee's district in Texas is ravaged 
by this COVID pandemic, so I want to thank her for helping us with our 
COVID Community Care Act and for being here tonight.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank very much the distinguished 
manager, the honorable Barbara Lee. I am most grateful for her yielding 
to me. Also, let me acknowledge the very important work that she has 
done over the years in disparities and racial equity. I thank her for 
being my partner in H.R. 40, and me her partner in H. Res. 100, that 
really also speaks to the pain and the issues of disparities.
  We look forward to reconciliation and we look forward to repair with 
those two initiatives. Let me also acknowledge the chair of the 
Congressional Black Caucus for gathering us all together, and my 
colleagues that are here, and my colleague that has just joined us, 
Congresswoman Adams.
  Let me try to address where we are nationwide and how disparities 
weaves its way into this phenomenon of the transfer of power--the 
peaceful transfer of power--and how the President's status of the 
President-elect and Vice President-elect is interwoven in how to best 
respond to one of the disparities in healthcare, and that is COVID-19.
  Mr. Speaker, first to take note of the fact that the stability of the 
United States electoral system is remarkable, it first involved the 
election of 1800, which marked the first time in United States history 
that power was transferred. The second was the 1876 election, which the 
President was chosen, who won neither the absolute majority popular 
vote nor the necessary electoral votes, but it was resolved by the 
infamous Hayes-Tilden Compromise. The third instance involved the 2000 
election, which sought the Supreme Court effectively deciding the 
Presidency. But in each of those moments there was an end. In each of 
those moments there was a transfer of power.
  We find ourselves now in a quandary. Believe it or not, there are 
people who are on ventilators. There are people in El Paso and Dallas 
who are in hospitals, who are being negatively impacted by the idea of 
the lack of peaceful engagement, specifically because the President-
elect and Vice President-elect definitively need to be able to secure 
information to have their COVID-19 task force speak with the White 
House task force to understand prospectively how vaccines will be 
transferred or implemented throughout the Nation.
  So as people are languishing on hospital beds, as loved ones are 
saying goodbye over telephones, we have this inability to transfer 
power. Our history has shown the transfer of power in the Nation. It 
was designed as a benefit. It can be harmed when the transition is not 
smooth and transparent, which can be invariably attributed to one or 
more of the following reasons.
  The outgoing President is still engaged in the building of his or her 
legacy in the final months of the administration; two, there are sharp 
differences in philosophy or style between the outgoing and incoming 
administration; or the current or future President actively makes 
trouble for his or her successor.
  In this timeframe, I hope my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, 
will find a way, as we come back to Washington, to be able to look to 
the transition of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, for 
example, and speak to the idea of how this should go; or maybe even 
from Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon, opposite parties, but yet 
they found a way to come together in the wake of the importance of the 
Constitution and democracy.
  Why would I start a health disparities discussion on the transfer of 
power?
  As I indicated, it is very important for the work that is going to be 
part of containing COVID-19 to really start now, to really start now 
with a new attitude about wearing masks, socially distance, washing 
your hands, and yes, testing, testing, testing.
  That is what I have found as a chair of the bipartisan Congressional 
COVID Task Force where we have been working on doing the work of 
implementing and talking about the diagnostic testing and all its 
gradations over the past couple of months.
  Our first testing site in Houston was opened on March 19. We have 
opened 41 test sites. The most recent was this past Saturday. We open 
the 42nd on this coming Saturday. The question in disparities is very, 
very real. The pandemics dealing with racial disparities indicates that 
there are 74 Black or African-American persons out of 100,000 impacted 
by COVID; Alaska Native and American Indian, 40; Hispanic or Latino, 
40; Asian, 31; White, 30; Native Hawaiian, 29; others, 29.
  We can see that there are large numbers of African Americans, 
Hispanic, and American Indian. We just heard that the Navajo community 
will be shutting down for a period of time. That is how devastating 
COVID-19 is. That is how much the disparities in healthcare are 
evident.
  Let me share with you this question of disparities and underlying 
conditions. Those are numbers of the number of deaths. So the number of 
deaths is much higher among African Americans and Hispanics.
  Why?
  Thirty percent more likely to die of CVD--that is cardiovascular 
disease--that is Black Americans. Latin Americans, 40 percent more 
likely to die from stroke. And then it goes on. Two times as likely to 
die as an infant, two times more likely to die of asthma, three times 
more likely to develop ESRD, two times more likely to die from prostate 
cancer, two times on cervical cancer, three times in pregnancy. There 
is still a high level of maternal mortality among African Americans.

  As it relates to Latin Americans and Hispanics, two times more likely 
to die of liver cancer, two times more likely to die of asthma, 1.7 
more times to have diabetes, and two times more likely to die of HIV-
AIDS. Which is why we see this increasing number of those on that 
ethnic backgrounds, African Americans, Hispanics and, of course, Native 
Americans and Alaskans, because of the underlying conditions and the 
lack of access to healthcare.
  We are on this floor today because, as members of the Tri-Caucus, we 
have made it our constructive business, starting from the Affordable 
Care Act, to deal with the question of health disparities. As a Member 
of Congress many years back, I authored legislation to create an Office 
of Health Disparities in the Health and Human Services Department, 
knowing that there was a lack of recognition of different clinicals 
that African Americans were not participating in, men and women. 
Hispanic men and women were not participating in those as well.
  In the course of the work that we are doing right now, we are seeing 
a high number of deaths. Texas hit 1 million cases on November 6. We 
were the first State to hit 1 million cases. Now, in Dallas and El 
Paso, my sister cities, my colleagues who are there working very hard, 
our hospitals are being oversaturated. The same thing that happened to 
Houston, Texas, in July of 2020.
  And so it is crucial to do three things: One, we must pass the Heroes

[[Page H5755]]

Act. We are desperate for that money in testing, desperate for PPPs, 
desperate for PPEs. We are now running out of PPEs in some of these 
saturated towns. We are desperate, as I said, for testing. We are 
desperate for economic dollars that are needed.
  Every testing site that I have had--most of them, let me clarify 
that, we have had full distribution by our Houston Food Bank, because 
people need food. And as evidenced with lines in my sister State, just 
a day or two ago in Los Angeles, we saw cars and cars and cars of 
individuals recognizing that testing was crucial.
  I believe that we cannot ignore anymore. There must be cooperation 
with our Republican friends, I will call them, to deal with providing 
this financial relief to our cities and to all of our constituents who 
are desperately in need. We must acknowledge the health disparities. It 
is important both in the White House task force, we know that it is 
happening in the COVID task force under the President-elect and Vice 
President-elect, that health disparities can kill.
  And we can see that the lack of a transition of power right at this 
time, the continued denial of who has been the victor, so that the 
General Services Administration can stop violating the administrative 
procedure code in not allowing the resources necessary for the team 
that is now in place looking to transition to power with the existing 
Presidency being stopped, not by law, not by any determination that you 
did not meet the standard of victory in terms of the Electoral College, 
but by an individual administrator who indicates that they refuse to 
certify and to allow that transfer of funds for them to work on.
  So I thank the gentlewoman for allowing me to present today, to speak 
both on the disparities and the needs for response, but also on the 
devastating impact of COVID-19 impacting now several States.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to close on this. I want to say it to America. We 
are coming on our holidays, and many different faiths celebrate their 
holidays during this time, from Thanksgiving to, in the Christian 
faith, Christmas, but many different faiths. I am not here to judge how 
and which faith will be celebrating this very special time of the year. 
We beg of you, on the basis of science, to realize that because someone 
is your family member does not mean that they are immune or that they 
cannot transfer COVID to you, or they are not asymptomatic. My message 
is that we must test, test, test.
  Today, I had a press conference in Houston, and I want to read these 
words as I close. I would encourage all cities and States to follow 
what was utilized in Los Angeles. It was effective. And that is a 
public safety alert. A public safety alert that is simple, that goes 
out to the text of all citizens.
  COVID-19 cases are increasing. Please wear a mask and social 
distance. Get tested if you have symptoms or might have been exposed. I 
would add to that, get tested because you may be asymptomatic. That 
simple note to the text of people in that State allowed thousands of 
individuals to see the importance of getting tested, and they went to 
the testing sites. That is going to help contain and stop the community 
spread.
  So my message is, as you get into Thanksgiving, please do your events 
outside. If you are inside, doing them 10 or less. Please ask all of 
your relatives and loved ones to get tested, tested, tested, so that we 
can contain this preceding the vaccine, which we know is coming, but is 
not coming as soon as we would like.
  We also know that we will be addressing the question of 
implementation and distribution as it relates to people of color and 
those who suffer disparities, along with the elderly and those 
underlying conditions.
  You will not get a vaccine tomorrow. While we are waiting for that 
process, we need to do what is right. And that is to continue to social 
distance, wearing the mask and getting tested.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her kindness and her 
leadership.
  Mr. Speaker, today I rise to join my colleagues during this Special 
Order to shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.
  I want to recognize and thank Congresswoman Karen Bass and the 
Congressional Black Caucus for hosting this hour, so that we may not 
only speak about the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on 
communities of color but also call upon the federal government to 
address these devastating inequities.
  Mr. Speaker, before addressing the devastating impact of the COVID-19 
crisis on communities of color, I wish to speak briefly on the 
important subject of presidential transitions and the peaceful transfer 
of power for which the United States is justly celebrated around the 
world.
  The stability of the United States electoral system is remarkable, 
but this does not mean it has never been tested; it has--three times--
and weathered each crisis.
  The first involved the election of 1800, which marked the first time 
in United States history that power had transferred peacefully between 
political parties.
  The second involved the 1876 election, in which a president was 
chosen who won neither the absolute majority popular vote nor the 
necessary number of electoral votes and was resolved by the infamous 
`Hayes-Tilden Compromise,' which effectively ended Reconstruction.
  The third instance involved the 2000 election which saw the Supreme 
Court effectively decide the presidency by ordering the cessation of 
ballot counting in the state of Florida.
  Mr. Speaker, what enabled the country to weather these crises is that 
all parties, including the victor and the vanquished, understood and 
accepted the primacy of the rule of law and the bedrock democratic 
value that power is only legitimately conveyed by the people through 
their votes and is held in trust and to be used exclusively to protect 
and advance the national interest.
  A peaceful transfer of power implies also a smooth and seamless 
transition from outgoing administration to the incoming one, which has 
usually but not always been the case.
  Our history has shown how the transfer of power, and the nation it 
was designed to benefit, can be harmed when the transition is not 
smooth and transparent, which can invariably be attributed to one or 
more of the following reasons: (1) the outgoing president is still 
engaged in the business of building his or her legacy in the final 
months of the administration; (2) there are sharp differences in 
philosophy or style between the outgoing and incoming administrations; 
or (3) the current or future president actively makes trouble for his 
successor or predecessor.
  The transition between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the newly 
elected John F. Kennedy is an example of the dangers of presidential 
legacy building post-election because Eisenhower authorized covert 
programs for regime change in what is today the Democratic Republic of 
the Congo, in the Dominican Republic, and, most famously, against Fidel 
Castro's Cuba but none of these programs were completed by the time 
Kennedy took the oath of office.
  The second form of trouble can come from the soon-to-be-powerful 
people on the receiving end of a transition, as when incoming President 
George W. Bush failed to pay due heed to the warnings received from 
then President Bill Clinton about the dangers of Osama Bin Laden and Al 
Qaeda.
  But far the most serious harm to be avoided stems from the failure of 
the outgoing administration to prioritize and expedite the sharing of 
vital information and resources with the incoming administration.
  This is the danger we currently face in the aftermath of President-
elect Biden's resounding victory in the Electoral College and the 
popular vote.
  Mr. Speaker, the federal government is perhaps the most complex 
organization in the world because it involves a $5 trillion-plus 
budget, four million person workforce, including the military and 
reservists, who are stationed all over the globe, and two million 
career civil servants in hundreds of operating units of the Executive 
Branch, not to mention the 4,000 political appointments made by the 
President.
  So, a presidential transition of this enterprise is a massive 
operation that requires a lot of work, time, and cooperation in three 
important areas.
  The first is access to the agencies themselves--there are over 100 
operating in the government--and the incoming team needs to understand 
what's happening inside them because each and every one of them have 
different urgent issues that they are addressing and deciding, 
including for example, the approval and distribution of any vaccine for 
COVID-19 and dealing with the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
  The second area is the processing of personnel, 1,200 of whom require 
Senate confirmation and who will need security clearances and financial 
agreements with the Office of Government Ethics to make sure there are 
no conflicts.
  Third, the incoming President must have access to the President's 
Daily Brief, to ensure it has awareness and understanding of the most 
current threats and challenges facing our nation.

[[Page H5756]]

  The final area is providing funding needed to pay the salaries and 
expenses of the incoming administration's transition personnel.
  I call upon the current President to honor his oath of office to 
defend, protect, and preserve the Constitution and America's sacred 
tradition of peaceful transfers of power and begin the full and 
seamless transition to the Biden Administration.
  Turning to the immediate subject at hand, we must recognize the 
impact of COVID-19 on people of color and its devastating consequences 
on the communities we represent.
  As a Founding Member of the Bipartisan Congressional Coronavirus Task 
Force, I call upon my fellow Members of Congress to not only recognize 
the disproportionate impact of this virus on communities of color but 
also to come together to redress this reality.
  I first saw news reports on the rapid spread of the coronavirus in 
early January.
  As the numbers of infected increased, I knew this was not something 
to be taken lightly, so I began to monitor the situation more closely.
  On February 10, 2020, I held the first press conference on the issue 
of the novel coronavirus at Houston Intercontinental Airport, where I 
was joined by public health officials, local unions, and advocates to 
raise awareness regarding the virus, the implications it might have for 
travel to the United States from China, and the need to combat early 
signs of discrimination targeting Asian businesses in the United 
States.
  From the onset of this pandemic, I have actively worked to address 
the negative and unequal affects of this disease on people of color.
  I have facilitated the opening of 41 COVID-19 testing sites, which 
have collectively provided over 200,000 tests to residents in Harris 
County, one of the most diverse counties in the state of Texas.
  Across the United States, Black individuals comprise thirteen percent 
of the population.
  Yet, we experience a higher rate of incarceration and health 
disparities, are more vulnerable to economic slowdowns, and are even 
more likely to get COVID-19 and face significantly worse health 
outcomes from the disease.
  Disparities tell the story of living while Black in America, and 
there are disparities in every aspect of African American life and 
death.
  Right now, Black people are dying at 2.2 times the rate and Latinx 
people at two times the rate of white people.
  Whereas American Indian and Alaska Native people are 5.3 times more 
likely than white people to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.
  My district of Harris County has reported over 175,000 total cases of 
coronavirus, of which over 17,300 identify as Black and over 37,700 
identify as Hispanic or Latinx.
  From a high prevalence of preexisting conditions to limited 
employment opportunities to additional structural inequities that are 
the result of implicit bias and racial discrimination, there are 
several factors at play for why communities of color are 
disproportionately affected by the coronavirus,
  For example, the African American community is known to be highly 
affected by preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, 
hypertension, lung disease, and obesity.
  With these underlying health conditions, many African Americans 
suffer from an impaired immune system, thereby dramatically increasing 
the risk of being infected with and the fatality of the coronavirus.
  Limited employment opportunities also play a role in understanding 
why people of color are most affected by this disease.
  According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Black 
workers make up about one in nine workers overall, but they represent 
about one in six front-line-industry workers, further increasing the 
disproportionate likelihood of being exposed to and contracting the 
virus.
  These disparities cannot be separated from the history of enslavement 
of Black people and subsequent periods of segregation, racialized 
violence, pervasive racial discrimination and their ongoing impacts.
  With that in mind, I urge my colleagues to support my bill, H.R. 40, 
the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-
Americans Act, as it is the most comprehensive legislative solution to 
begin repairing the legacy of systemic racism and accounting for the 
harms of past and present.
  Mr. Speaker, it is abundantly clear that people across the United 
States are struggling in the face of this epidemic.
  As Members of Congress, we have a duty to our constituents to address 
this vicious cycle of socioeconomic disparities that further the 
inequities facing communities of color, especially during the COVID-19 
crisis.
  We must come together to ensure that COVID-19 relief extends to all 
members of our communities.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from 
Texas for using this opportunity to deliver a very powerful public 
health message also. I also would just note a personal privilege. I was 
born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and my heart goes out to all of 
those who are suffering from this terrible deadly pandemic.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to salute our colleague, Congresswoman Veronica 
Escobar, for being such a tremendous leader in El Paso in trying to 
help on the ground with taking care of people and preventing the 
transition of the virus.
  I thank Congresswoman Jackson Lee again.
  Mr. Speaker, I now yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. 
Adams), a member of the Committee on Education and Labor, whose mission 
in life, I think, is to make sure that our young people are educated 
and receive the best quality education through the Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities, and at the same time make sure that their 
health and safety is a top priority issue for their health and their 
safety.

                              {time}  2100

  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and for 
her leadership. I thank, as well, the Chair of the Congressional Black 
Caucus for getting us together tonight.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the founder and co-chair of the Black 
Maternal Health Caucus.
  I want to take this time to speak briefly about the impact of COVID-
19 on the Black community, communities of color, and pregnant women.
  For the past 8 months, our country has been battling this incredibly 
deadly virus. It is a national public health crisis unlike any we have 
experienced. And it has highlighted the existing racial health 
disparities that our communities were already facing.
  The data does not lie. We know that people of color are experiencing 
significantly higher rates of infections and deaths compared to White 
individuals.
  Black people are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as 
White people, and the mortality rate for Native Americans is nearly two 
times that of White persons.
  Researchers have also found that Black and Hispanic people are nearly 
three times as likely to contract COVID-19 and nearly two times as 
likely to die from COVID-19.
  This month, a CDC morbidity and mortality weekly report found that 
pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  Since January 22, more than 38,000 pregnant women have been diagnosed 
with COVID-19 in the United States, of which 51 have died.
  The study found that pregnant women are more likely to be admitted to 
the intensive care unit, receive invasive ventilation, and are at 
increased risk of death compared to White, nonpregnant women.
  But much remains unknown.
  But what we do know is that before the pandemic Black and Brown 
mothers were already dying at alarming and unacceptable rates.
  In particular, Black women from all walks of life were three and four 
times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than 
White women.
  According to the CDC data, Latina women account for nearly 50 percent 
of COVID-19 cases among pregnant women.
  And these numbers indicate the devastating effects of the pandemic on 
the minority community.
  A recent study also showed that Black and Latina women in 
Philadelphia who are pregnant were five times more likely to be exposed 
to the new coronavirus than White pregnant women.
  Physicians in Washington, DC, said that anecdotally they were also 
seeing similar patterns, according to an August report in the 
Washington Post.
  As Congresswoman Lee and I have continued to say since the start of 
the pandemic, we are facing a crisis within a crisis. And that is why I 
have been working closely with healthcare providers, stakeholders, to 
provide a comprehensive plan for eliminating these racial health 
disparities, especially during the pandemic.
  We must improve access to screening and treatment for women at risk 
for preterm birth;

[[Page H5757]]

  Ensure that all women have access to high quality maternity care, no 
matter where they live;
  And provide access to midwives or doulas that can advocate for 
families' needs throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
  This summer I introduced the COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training 
Act to provide grants for hospitals and healthcare providers for 
implicit bias training, particularly in light of COVID-19.
  We all have our unconscious bias, and it is important for our 
healthcare providers to be more aware of those issues as they are 
providing care to patients during the pandemic.
  We need to invest in programs that help families meet their basic 
needs, including nutrition assistance, housing assistance, and other 
social supports.
  Last, but certainly not least, we must improve the quality of the 
data being collected and ensure diversity among stakeholders that serve 
on mortality review committees.
  If we don't stand together to address these inequities, Black and 
Brown mothers, our families, our friends, and our communities will 
continue to suffer.
  I hope this Congress will stand together to ensure that our 
communities, our mothers, our babies have the resources they need--not 
only to survive this pandemic, but to thrive and truly build back 
stronger.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California for her 
leadership.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Alma Adams 
for that very clear statement and I thank her for outlining the 
interconnection and the intersection between systemic racism and the 
social determinants of healthcare and how they impact the underlying 
conditions and exacerbate it now as seen in COVID-19. I thank 
Congresswoman Adams again for her leadership.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Pennsylvania (Ms. 
Scanlon), who certainly knows the serious and devastating impact of 
this COVID pandemic in her district. I visited her district and 
understand how close she is to her nonprofits and her community-based 
organizations who are doing phenomenal work.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Scanlon very much for being here.
  Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for arranging this 
Special Order hour.
  I stand before you today frustrated by the lack of Federal relief as 
COVID-19 surges across the country. With each day that we don't have 
relief for families, businesses, our frontline workers, and the State 
and local governments that have borne the brunt of the pandemic 
response, its impact grows that much more disastrous--and 
disproportionately so for our communities of color.
  More than a quarter of my constituents are Black, and we now know 
that Black individuals are almost three times as likely to become 
infected with COVID-19 as White individuals and twice as likely to die 
of the virus. So over the past 9 months my district has seen families 
and neighborhoods devastated by this virus.

  My district is also home to our Nation's poorest and hungriest major 
city. When you live paycheck to paycheck, one missed shift or even 
missing an hour's worth of work forces families to make impossible 
decisions between putting food on the table or keeping a roof overhead, 
and it makes quarantining impossible.
  For the most part these are not new challenges caused by COVID-19, 
these are challenges that have been plaguing our most marginalized 
communities and communities of color for decades. But the pandemic has 
exacerbated and laid bare these inequities for all who care enough to 
see. It is why we must provide relief to help our communities survive 
the pandemic and commit to closing the gaps preexisting the pandemic 
that have been holding families back for far too long.
  Our families are in crisis. They need stimulus checks to pay their 
rent and mortgages. They need access to free testing to protect 
themselves and their families. They also need food and childcare and 
access to equitable education, housing, healthcare, and wages.
  This pandemic has shown us there is a roadmap to improving the lives 
of millions of Americans, especially our communities of color, but we 
must have the courage to follow it.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Scanlon for 
joining us tonight with our Tri-Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus, 
because so many of the issues that you are talking about in your 
district as it relates to COVID and health disparities and the social 
determinants we all are dealing with in our districts, and so thank you 
for your leadership and for continuing to help us get this Heroes Act 
passed so that we can do some of the things that you laid out that our 
communities deserve.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the following statements from 
the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National 
Indian Health Board, the Asian Health Services, and UnidosUS.

  Statement for the Record: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human 
                                 Rights

       On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human 
     Rights, I submit this testimony for the record.
       No matter what we look like, where we live, or what is in 
     our wallets, getting sick reminds us that at our core we are 
     all the same. But we cannot ignore the pandemic's 
     disproportionate and devastating impact on Black and Brown 
     people, Native Americans, low-income people, people with 
     disabilities, the elderly, women, and immigrant communities. 
     Through health and education disparities, income inequality, 
     discrimination in voting and housing, unequal treatment 
     within the legal system, and the digital divide, communities 
     of color have been routinely locked out and left behind--and 
     sadly, as we have seen in increased hate violence and in far 
     worse health outcomes for people of color, this pandemic is 
     no different.
       This pandemic calls for the enactment of policies and 
     sufficient funding to protect low- and moderate-income people 
     from economic disaster and to meet the urgent needs of the 
     most vulnerable people in our nation. Communities that have 
     already been marginalized by structural barriers to equal 
     opportunities and who have low levels of wealth are 
     particularly vulnerable during this current emergency. While 
     many working people have been sidelined, many others are 
     still providing essential services during the crisis--working 
     at our grocery stores, delivering mail and packages, and 
     providing care to vulnerable people--putting their lives at 
     risk, often at reduced hours and wages, to keep our country 
     running. The ongoing crisis has laid bare the structural 
     racism and barriers to opportunity that are entrenched in our 
     society, and our collective actions now must not worsen them.

         Statement for the Record: National Indian Health Board

       On behalf of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and 
     the 574 sovereign Tribal Nations we serve, I submit this 
     testimony for the record.
       American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribal 
     communities have been disproportionately impacted by the 
     COVID-19 pandemic. No sector of Tribal economies or health 
     systems have been spared from the devastation this crisis has 
     unleashed. We are now, as of this writing, seven months in 
     the throes of an unparalleled pandemic. While we may not have 
     been able to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19, we absolutely 
     could have mitigated the worst of its impacts--especially in 
     Indian Country. But unfortunately, our Tribes are, once 
     again, battling a catastrophic, unprecedented, once-in-a-
     lifetime disease without the necessary federal relief funds 
     and resources to protect and preserve life.
       Since June of this year alone, NIHB has submitted seventeen 
     letters to Congress urging immediate action and passage of 
     emergency stimulus funds for the Indian health system to 
     better respond to COVID-19. We solemnly await congressional 
     action. We have consistently urged long-term reauthorization 
     of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI), vital to 
     Tribal efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by 
     preventing, treating, and managing one of the strongest risk 
     factors for a more serious COVID-19 illness: type II 
     diabetes. We solemnly await congressional action. We have 
     demanded that Congress work to fulfill Treaty obligations to 
     Tribal Nations and Native people by ensuring congressional 
     COVID-19 relief funds are on par with the recommendations 
     outlined by Tribal leaders and health experts. We solemnly 
     await congressional action. We have urged that burdensome 
     administrative requirements for accessing federal grants and 
     programs be eliminated to ensure expeditious delivery of 
     relief resources. We solemnly await congressional action. We 
     have urged that Congress not subject the Indian health system 
     to a destabilizing continuing resolution (CR) as it continues 
     to combat against an unparalleled pandemic; or to, at the 
     least, attach emergency COVID-19 appropriations for IHS to 
     the CR to mitigate the pain and disruption. Again, we 
     solemnly await congressional action.
       To be clear, we continue to appreciate the commitment and 
     leadership of members of Congress in working to advance 
     Tribal health priorities in response to COVID-19. But the 
     Tribes require action from all of Congress on those 
     commitments. On September 10, NIHB was joined by the National

[[Page H5758]]

     Congress of American Indians and the National Council of 
     Urban Indian Health in a letter to congressional leadership 
     urging immediate action on the priorities listed below. These 
     priorities have remained intact since early summer, as Indian 
     Country continues to bear the brunt of this extraordinary 
     crisis. In short, these priorities have not changed because 
     the situation in Indian Country remains just as dire. Once 
     again, we solemnly await congressional action.


                       Tribal COVID-19 Priorities

       Minimum $2 billion in emergency funds to IHS for immediate 
     distribution to I/T/U system.
       $1.7 billion to replenish lost 3rd party reimbursements 
     across the I/T/U system.
       Prioritize equitable distribution of a safe and effective 
     COVID-19 vaccine across Indian Country, including a minimum 5 
     percent set-aside in vaccine funds for the I/T/U system.
       Minimum $1 billion for water and sanitation systems across 
     IHS and Tribal communities.
       Long-term reauthorization (5 years), higher funding, and 
     expansion of self-determination and self-governance for the 
     Special Diabetes Program for Indians.


                            COVID-19 Updates

       The last time NIHB appeared before this Subcommittee was 
     June 10, 2020. Since that time, the number of AI/AN COVID-19 
     case infections reported by IHS have nearly quadrupled. 
     Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
     (CDC) reported a roughly 22 percent increase in COVID-19 
     hospitalization rates among AI/ANs--increasing from a rate of 
     272 per 100,000 in mid-July to 347.7 per 100,000 as of 
     September 12, 2020. Rates of death from COVID-19 among AI/ANs 
     have more than doubled since the last time NIHB testified 
     before the Subcommittee--from a rate of 36 per 100,000 on 
     June 9 to 81.9 per 100,000 as of September 15.
       In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
     (CDC) reported that across 23 states, cumulative incidence 
     rates of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases among AI/ANs are 3.5 
     times higher than for non-Hispanic Whites. Also, according to 
     CDC, age-adjusted rates of COVID-19 hospitalization among AI/
     ANs from March 1, 2020, through August 22, 2020, were 4.7 
     times higher than for non-Hispanic Whites. Without sufficient 
     additional congressional relief sent directly to I/T/U 
     systems, these shocking upward trends will more than likely 
     continue as COVID-19 restrictions are eased, schools and 
     businesses reopen, and the potential threat of a more severe 
     flu season coincides with this pandemic. State-specific data 
     further demonstrate the vast inequities in COVID-19 deaths 
     between AI/ANs and the general population. Below are a few 
     examples of these state-specific disparities based on NIHB's 
     analysis of state-specific data.
       In Arizona, AI/ANs account for 5.5 percent of the 
     population, but 13.4 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       In New Mexico, AI/ANs account for 10.7 percent of the 
     population, but nearly 57 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       In Montana, AI/ANs account for 8.2 percent of the 
     population, but 27 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       In South Dakota, AI/ANs account for 10.4 percent of the 
     population, but nearly 23 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       In North Dakota, AI/ANs account for 6.5 percent of the 
     population, but 13.3 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       In Mississippi, AI/ANs account for less than 1 percent of 
     the population, but 3 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
       Even more alarming is the lack of complete data on COVID-19 
     outcomes among AI/ANs. Available COVID-19 data already 
     highlight significant disparities between AI/ANs and the 
     general population; shockingly, true estimates of disease 
     burden and death resulting from COVID-19 in Indian Country 
     are likely much higher. In CDC's own August 2020 report on 
     COVID-19 in Indian Country, the authors noted the following:
       This analysis represents an underestimate of the actual 
     COVID-19 incidence among AI/AN persons for several reasons. 
     Reporting of detailed case data to CDC by states is known to 
     be incomplete; therefore, this analysis was restricted to 23 
     states with more complete reporting of race and ethnicity. As 
     a result, the analysis included only one half of reported 
     laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among AI/AN persons 
     nationwide, and the examined states represent approximately 
     one third of the national AI/AN population. In addition, AI/
     AN persons are commonly misclassified as non-AI/AN races and 
     ethnicities in epidemiologic and administrative data sets, 
     leading to an underestimation of AI/AN morbidity and 
     mortality.
       Indeed, there are multiple states that still have a 
     significant percentage of COVID-19 cases missing critical 
     demographic data. In California for instance, a whopping 31 
     percent of cases are still missing race and ethnicity. The 
     State of New York has failed to report AI/AN data 
     altogether--listing only Hispanic, Black, White, Asian, or 
     Other on their COVID-19 data dashboards.
       Meanwhile, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians 
     (SDPI)--instrumental for COVID-19 response efforts in Indian 
     Country because it is focused on prevention, treatment, and 
     management of diabetes, one of the most significant risk 
     factors for a more serious COVID-19 illness--has endured four 
     short-term extensions since last September, placing immense 
     and undue strain on program operations. Under the House-
     passed CR for FY 2021 H.R. 8337, SDPI is extended for a mere 
     eleven days--its shortest reauthorization on record. A 
     national survey of SDPI grantees conducted by NIHB found that 
     nearly 1 in 5 Tribal SDPI grantees reported employee 
     furloughs, including for healthcare providers, with 81 
     percent of SDPI furloughs directly linked to the economic 
     impacts of COVID-19 in Tribal communities. Roughly 1 in 4 
     programs have reported delaying essential purchases of 
     medical equipment to treat and monitor diabetes due to 
     funding uncertainty, and nearly half of all programs are 
     experiencing or anticipating cutbacks in the availability of 
     diabetes program services--all under the backdrop of a 
     pandemic that continues to overwhelm the Indian health 
     system.
       Now, with the inevitability of a continuing resolution (CR) 
     through at least December 11, 2020--and the possibility of 
     another CR thereafter--it is even more imperative that 
     Congress provide emergency appropriations to better stabilize 
     the Indian health system. This Subcommittee knows full well 
     that IHS is the only federal healthcare system that is 
     subject to government shutdowns and CRs. This Subcommittee is 
     also acutely aware of the devastating impacts that endless 
     CRs have had, and will continue to have, on the Indian health 
     system. We commend Chair McCollum's leadership in introducing 
     H.R. 1128 and Ranking Member Joyce's strong support for H.R. 
     1135--both of which would authorize advance appropriations 
     for IHS and permanently insulate it from the volatility of 
     the annual appropriations process. But in the interim, 
     Congress must ensure a funding fix that protects and 
     preserves life in Indian Country and delivers critical 
     pandemic relief in recognition of federal Treaty obligations. 
     If Congress fails to provide sufficient emergency 
     appropriations for the Indian health system, a stopgap 
     measure will force a healthcare system serving roughly 2.6 
     million AI/ANs to operate during a pandemic without an 
     enacted budget or even adjustments for rising medical and 
     non-medical inflation. In short, that is a recipe for even 
     more disaster, death, and despair.
       We patiently remind you that federal Treaty obligations for 
     healthcare to Tribal Nations and AI/AN Peoples exist in 
     perpetuity and must be fully honored, especially in light of 
     the current pandemic and its unparalleled toll in Indian 
     Country. While we appreciate the roughly $1 billion to IHS 
     under the CARES Act and the $750 million testing set-aside 
     under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care 
     Enhancement Act; these investments have been necessary but 
     woefully insufficient to stem the tide of the pandemic in 
     Tribal communities.
       We thank you for your continued commitment to Indian 
     Country, and as always, stand ready to work with you in a 
     bipartisan fashion to advance the health of all AI/AN people.
           Sincerely,

                                     National Indian Health Board.

            Statement for the Record: Asian Health Services

       On behalf of the One Nation Commission, Co-Chairs Sherry 
     Hirota, CEO of Asian Health Services, and former Congressman 
     Mike Honda, I submit this testimony for the record.
       The information shared, is documented in the One Nation 
     Commission 2020 Report: One Nation AAPIs Rising to Fight Dual 
     Pandemics COVID-19 and Racism, which was delivered to every 
     member of Congress and the Senate in October 2020.
       The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities of color, 
     including AAPIs, the hardest. In the 13th Congressional 
     District, Alameda County in California, AAPIs are the largest 
     population subgroup, comprising a diverse and varied 
     population, spanning every economic stratum; essential 
     workers and corporate CEOs, Nobel Laureates and students on 
     the broken side of the digital divide, researchers and 
     doctors, janitors and food servers, and new immigrants all 
     contributing to society in this time of crisis.
       By the time COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and 
     national emergency, the Asian American and Pacific Islander 
     (AAPI) Community had already gone underground. Fear of the 
     virus was compounded by a sudden and virulent rise in hate 
     and violence against Asians. Racist taunting by our country's 
     top leader calling Covid-19 ``Kung Flu,'' and ``China 
     Virus,'' used the pandemic and its economic destruction to 
     scapegoat Asian Americans across the country. Congresswoman 
     Lee's own staffer was called, ``COVID'' and pelted with rocks 
     while riding his bike through Rock Creek Park in D.C. Despite 
     calls from every sector of the AAPI Community for the 
     president to retract his dangerous words, the hate speak 
     continued. The result was a tsunami of attacks on Asian 
     Americans.
       As COVID-19 cases spiked around the country, AAPIs were not 
     only blamed but appeared missing from the news coverage, 
     data, and charts. The twenty-five-year-old health advocacy 
     battle to ``disaggregate data'' reared its ugly head again 
     and was now a matter of life and death. Lumping together 
     information about ethnic and language groups obstructs 
     effective epidemiology and care. In the big picture, the 
     absence of data ensures invisibility for AAPIs as a whole, 
     and each subpopulation within that designation. Missing are 
     the number of AAPIs who have been tested, how many tested 
     positive, how many are sick, or hospitalized, or have died. 
     We must expand the frame--to ask, what is the impact of 
     COVID-19 on AAPI communities? To fill the gap a self-
     organized

[[Page H5759]]

     work group of nationally renowned AAPI researchers pulled 
     data from multiple cities and states revealing higher death 
     rates among Asian Americans who were Covid positive.
       Nine months into the dual pandemic of COVID-19 and racism, 
     the AAPI community is fighting back against being both blamed 
     and ignored. The One Nation Commission is honored to join 
     forces with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Karen 
     Bass, and the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian 
     Pacific Islander American Caucus, and individuals and 
     organizations to defeat COVID-19, bring back our communities 
     stronger and healthier, combat hate crimes against AAPIs, and 
     work in solidarity with the Black, Latinx and Indigenous 
     People to fight systemic racism.
       Hidden disparities undermine effective and just health 
     policy and outcomes. COVID vaccine allocation, for example, 
     based prioritization in part on inaccurate information of 
     disparities and vulnerabilities. Recently the National 
     Academy of Sciences released recommendations on vaccine 
     allocation but did not name Asian Americans as a vulnerable 
     group. This must be immediately rectified.
       Critical to health, justice, equity, and the opportunity 
     for our communities to emerge stronger than before from these 
     dual pandemics:
       (1) Mandate disaggregated data collection and reporting;
       (2) Require linguistically and culturally competent 
     outreach and care;
       (3) Strengthen and resource the community health center and 
     nonprofit safety net; and
       (4) Reverse unfair and un-American anti-immigrant policies 
     that endanger the public health and public good, including 
     Public Charge.
       Immediate next steps:
       (1) Protecting and further investing in trusted community-
     based organizations to implement new programs and preserve 
     proven programs,
       COVID community testing,
       COVID contact tracing,
       Cultural and linguistic competency,
       Addressing misinformation that creates fear and chilling 
     effects (e.g., public charge rule change).
       (2) Expanding beyond COVID-19 outcomes (cases and deaths) 
     to understand full impacts
       Anti-Asian hate crimes a physical and mental health,
       Mental health,
       Immigration status affecting access and utilization of 
     services (e.g., public charge rule change),
       Other social determinants of health (occupation/essential 
     workers, living conditions, language barriers).
       (3) Data disaggregation is paramount to identifying and 
     addressing hidden disparities. Encourage immediate 
     disaggregated data collection at the local levels--testing, 
     cases, comorbidities, deaths,
       Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good: Reinforce 
     disaggregated data reporting in public communications to 
     create this paradigm shift, even with small numbers,
       An example of hidden disparities: Filipinos having even 
     more striking death rates. In the U.S., Filipino nurses make 
     up 4 percent of workforce but nearly 31.5 percent of deaths 
     among registered nurses.

                   Statement for the Record: UnidosUS

       On behalf of UnidosUS, I submit this testimony for the 
     record.
       Communities of color are putting life and limb on the line 
     every day to help our nation through the COVID-19 crisis yet 
     continue to be overwhelmingly and disproportionately impacted 
     by the dire health and economic repercussions of this 
     pandemic.
       These unprecedented and devastating times continue to 
     expose the appalling and deeply unjust fault lines in our 
     nation's health care system and labor force. Despite the fact 
     that Latinos are overrepresented in ``essential'' occupations 
     where they are most at risk of exposure to the coronavirus 
     infection and are also bearing the brunt of the economic 
     fallout from the pandemic, they have been consistently 
     excluded from much needed COVID-19 relief legislation.
       Any further delay in COVID-19 relief legislation will be 
     particularly devastating to the health and well-being of our 
     nation's 58 million Latinos, far too many of whom have been 
     left out of the four coronavirus relief packages enacted so 
     far. Failure to respond urgently to the human suffering we 
     are witnessing is deeply objectionable and, from a public 
     health and economic perspective, wholly indefensible.
       Latinos have long suffered from health disparities--being 
     more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as 
     diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Another disparity is 
     emerging, Latinos are contracting and dying from COVID-19 
     disproportionately and are nearly three times more likely to 
     die compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
       These disparities are a result of multiple preexisting 
     structural and societal factors, including a health care 
     system that leaves coverage out of reach of millions of 
     Latinos. Before the pandemic, more than 10 million Latinos 
     (including 1.6 million Latino children) were uninsured, and 
     preliminary data now show that the Latino uninsured rate 
     increased over the course of 2020. Latinos have also long 
     struggled with food insecurity and increased stressors and 
     mental health issues, and the pandemic has only exacerbated 
     these challenges.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, let me take a moment to thank all 
of our colleagues who joined us this evening laying out the pandemic 
upon pandemic upon pandemic in communities of color.
  In all past public health crises one recurring lesson stands out: 
That is, success depends on the willingness of people to trust the 
health information that they are getting. We learned this from the HIV 
and AIDS pandemic, Ebola, H1N1, and now we are learning it again during 
COVID. So this is especially true for communities of color.
  This year millions of Americans have taken to the streets to demand 
racial justice. This is because the system that exists today has failed 
them. We must acknowledge the centuries old racial and ethnic 
disparities, and intentionally build culturally and community-minded 
policies to move forward for a stronger and unified country.
  We must act swiftly. The longer communities suffer from COVID-19, the 
greater the long-term impact and disparities. States project that their 
shortfall for 2021-fiscal year will be much deeper than the shortfalls 
faced in any year of the Great Recession.
  Federal Reserve economists project that unemployment will be at 6.5 
percent at the end of 2021. Of course, it is higher in communities of 
color. The Congressional Budget Office projects an even higher rate at 
6.7 percent; again, for communities of color more than likely it is 
double that.
  Our Nation's workforce is disproportionately composed of communities 
of color and some of the most marginalized communities and groups. Many 
are essential workers. These workers and their families are being put 
at greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic due to the conditions 
of their jobs and their socioeconomic realities and, mind you, the lack 
of Federal response. We must pass a COVID relief bill.
  I am proud to stand before you joined by my colleagues because I know 
that this change is on the horizon. From the sidewalks to the ballot 
boxes, people are fully engaged and are courageously advocating to be 
heard. It is our job that every community is ensured coronavirus relief 
and that we negotiate what is needed, including funding to provide 
relief for every community and with community stakeholders.
  Our bill, H.R. 8192, the COVID Community Care Act, does just that. We 
cannot afford to leave anyone behind.
  Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank our Speaker; Chairwoman Bass, for 
sharing this CBC Special Order hour; and I thank our Tri-Caucus chairs, 
Congresswoman Chu and Representative Castro, Representatives Haaland, 
Davids, of course, Representative Garcia. And I thank all of our 
colleagues for being here tonight to really sound the alarm.
  This is an emergency in the entire country. It is a deep and broad 
emergency pandemic as it relates to COVID-19, and we need relief right 
away.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the 
impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our communities of 
color across this nation. This virus has deeply impacted every segment 
of our society, but the harms that have befallen certain populations 
have been disproportionate and devastating.
  For our Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian, and immigrant families, 
COVID-19 has exacerbated longstanding inequities in our health care and 
economic systems, and our communities of color have been burdened with 
higher rates of comorbidities, more barriers in accessing medical care, 
and worse health outcomes due to this virus. This has been devastating 
to observe, as many of these same communities have also been dealing 
with significant economic turmoil in these recent months.
  Never has our society faced a challenge such as this. These are truly 
unprecedented times, and it merits our relentless efforts to lessen the 
damages of this pandemic, which is expected to worsen during this 
upcoming winter season. It is our responsibility as members of this 
chamber to prevent the imminent disparate harms of COVID-19 on 
communities of color. We must also address the systematic issues of 
structural racism in our society, which affects the health and economic 
wellbeing of our families.
  Everyday, our nation sees the need for further action to combat this 
public

[[Page H5760]]

health crisis. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting additional 
federal assistance to fight this pandemic and protecting our 
communities of color.
  Mr. CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the 
Tri-Caucus' Special Order to highlight the disproportionate impact of 
COVID-19 on communities of color. Our nation is currently overwhelmed 
by unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and 
deaths. After more than eight months of suffering, the COVID-19 
pandemic continues to ravage our communities, creating incalculable 
pain, massive economic disruption, and immense strain on our public 
health system. As of this moment, more than 246,000 Americans have lost 
their lives from this deadly disease. More than eleven million have 
been infected, and nearly 70,000 are currently hospitalized with severe 
cases of COVID-19. While all Americans are suffering from this 
pandemic, communities of color are experiencing acute and 
disproportionate pain.
  From the beginning of this pandemic, it was clear that the phrase 
``when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia'' 
would be particularly true with COVID-19's devastating consequences. In 
fact, the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately harms Black and Brown 
communities with dramatically unequal infection rates, 
hospitalizations, and deaths. Specifically, Black people are three 
times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than whites. 
Moreover, Black people die from COVID-19 at around twice the rate of 
white people. These aren't just statistics. They represent our friends, 
neighbors, and loved ones. They are people like my cousin who died from 
COVID-19 earlier this year, and so many others who are no longer with 
us.
  Like past disease outbreaks and natural disasters, the COVID-19 
pandemic lays bare the consequences of systemic injustices suffered by 
communities of color. Institutional racism, compounded by environmental 
and economic injustices, have resulted in severe health disparities for 
communities of color which make the COVID-19 pandemic so uniquely 
devastating. Despite the disproportionate harm the COVID-19 pandemic 
has caused among communities of color, many states still do not provide 
transparency regarding racial and ethnic demographic data for COVID-19 
cases and deaths. For example, in my state of Indiana, the State only 
provides an aggregate breakdown of the racial and ethnic demographics 
for cases and deaths during the entire pandemic. This results in a 
profoundly incomplete picture of the disproportionate sickness, death, 
fear and tragedy this virus is inflicting on communities of color.
  As Congress considers much-needed, additional measures to combat 
COVID-19 and provide relief for businesses, hospitals and workers, one 
thing is clear: Communities of color must receive substantial relief 
and support that matches the devastation they've suffered from this 
pandemic. In addition, states and public health departments must 
provide updated and daily demographic information, including a racial 
and ethnic breakdown, for the daily numbers of COVID-19 cases and 
deaths. This data transparency is essential to fully understand how the 
pandemic is affecting different communities and how we can best 
respond. With this data, we can better target our COVID-19 relief funds 
and support to ensure that communities of color get all the help we 
need to weather the storm of this pandemic and combat the underlying 
inequities in our health care system that this pandemic has 
exacerbated.
  I am committed to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle 
to act now and to act boldly to implement a national plan that will 
save lives from this terrible disease.

                          ____________________