On Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Don Beyer of Virginia asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to start reporting on the long-term health impact of Covid-19 on marginalized racial groups and women.
In a letter to the agency, the lawmakers said it's "critical" for Congress and the American public to have access to data disaggregated by demographic groups "in order to inform policymaking and protect the public’s health.”
Black women are some of the most outspoken voices fighting for long Covid recognition.
That last part — “in order to inform policymaking” — sticks out to me. It seems to lay the foundation for marginalized groups who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid to potentially demand financial compensation or other reparative actions from a government that has done an ineffective job of protecting them from the disease. That’ll be a story to watch.
Long-haulers — people whose Covid symptoms linger for a prolonged period — have demanded for years that government and health officials do more to address their ongoing issues. Symptoms of long Covid can include memory loss, muscle pain, depression, loss of smell or taste and more.
“Preliminary studies indicate that women are uniquely vulnerable to Long COVID,” Pressley and Beyer wrote, adding that Black, Latino and Indigenous people are at least twice as likely than white people to be hospitalized and die from the disease.
“These communities have historically faced racial discrimination and inequities in social determinants of health, contributing to greater risk of COVID infection," they wrote. "Accordingly, these communities of color are at greater risk of suffering from Long COVID.”
People from various communities and classes have relayed their experiences as long-haulers, but Black women are some of the most outspoken voices fighting for long Covid recognition. Many of them have discussed the trauma of having their concerns disregarded by medical professionals.
It could take years to assemble a thorough, demographic-specific report on long Covid since any study would need to look at how the disease takes a toll on people over time. Nonetheless, with their letter, Pressley and Beyer are urging top health officials to finally take note of groups believed to have endured the most suffering.
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