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Internal CDC report says racism is making COVID-19 deadlier for Black Americans

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fundamental problems of inequality and discrimination are putting Black Americans at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, and also making COVID-19 deadlier for them, according to an internal agency report.

The CDC’s “COVID-19 Science Update,” dated Dec. 4 and marked for “agency use only,” builds on previous work the agency has done on racial disparities, but is the starkest in terms of its conclusions about the causes of those disparities, providing a sweeping indictment of a health care and economic system that disadvantages Black Americans during the pandemic in myriad ways.

“Unfortunately, discrimination, which includes racism, exists in systems meant to protect well-being or health,” the CDC report says. “Discrimination can lead to chronic and toxic stress and shapes social and economic factors that put some people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of COVID-19. There is increasing recognition that addressing the underlying inequities in social determinants of health is key to improving health and reducing health disparities.”

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