Congresswoman Moore led her colleagues in a letter calling on Acting Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Chad Wolf and Federal Emergency Management Administrator (FEMA) Peter Gaynor, to consider the long-standing racial, economic, and health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 when allocating resources in their federal response. The Members released the following statement:
“Racism was declared a public health crisis by Milwaukee County because the effects of discriminatory policies have manifested in health, education, and economic disparities. As we are witnessing, this pandemic has exacerbated those inequities. In my own district, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color, with rates of infection and deaths rising at alarming levels in African-American and among Latinx individuals.
In April, FEMA released a Civil Rights Bulletin, outlining efforts to ensure that FEMA’s Civil Rights obligations are met during the agency’s response and recovery to COVID-19. The bulletin stated that FEMA intends to lead a disaster assistance process that is “equitable and impartial” and without discrimination regarding a number of attributes, including race, age, and socioeconomic status – each of which have experienced disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and unfavorable health outcomes – including death. It is critical that the agency’s allocation of billions of dollars in resources, both supplies and funding, lives up to this policy.
Given concerns about how FEMA has distributed its emergency aid for prior disasters in a way that slighted minority and other vulnerable communities, I was pleased to join my colleagues in asking FEMA and DHS to acknowledge these long-standing disparities and ensure that its distribution of resources is in line with the disparate impact of this disease on certain communities,” said Congresswoman Moore. A few weeks ago, Senator Kamala Harris and Rep. Marcia Fudge, along with numerous other members, sent a similar letter to the Administrator.
“Public health and economic disparities are likely contributing to higher rates of coronavirus cases and deaths. In particular, this pandemic is disproportionately impacting African Americans in Milwaukee and we have seen a spike in cases impacting our Latinx community,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Trump administration must recognize these disparities and do more to provide the resources necessary to combat the spread of this virus and better support these underserved communities across our country.”
“Every inequity that low-income communities and communities of color face is magnified by this pandemic and we must plan and execute our response accordingly, said Congressman Pocan. “In Milwaukee, and across Wisconsin, we’re seeing the disproportionately large infection rates within communities of color building on centuries of inequality in our nation. When vulnerable communities already have a systemic lack of access to healthcare, food security and housing, FEMA should be ensuring they are prioritized and receive the proper response and support. Anything less than direct and targeted aid is inadequate.”
“This virus has upended the lives of Wisconsinites throughout the state, particularly in our most vulnerable communities and in communities of color. FEMA and the Administration need to provide a clear, thoughtful plan for how they will account for racial and socioeconomic disparities when responding to this crisis in Wisconsin,” said Congressman Kind.