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Fauci: Pandemic showed 'undeniable effects of racism' in society

Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, said Sunday the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed racial disparities in living conditions and access to health care across the U.S. that required serious action to fix.

During a commencement address given virtually to new graduates of Emory University, the president's chief medical adviser pointed to higher rates of COVID-19 deaths among Black Americans, Latino Americans and members of other minority groups as evidence of "social determinants" that caused the pandemic to hit those communities especially hard.

"Now, very few of these comorbidities [with COVID-19] have racial determinants. Almost all relate to the social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that some people of color find themselves in from birth regarding the availability of an adequate diet, access to health care and the undeniable effects of racism in our society," he said.

"Let us promise ourselves our memory of this tragic reality - that an infectious disease disparately kills people of color - does not fade," Fauci continued. "Righting this wrong will take a decades-long commitment. I urge you to be part of that commitment."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in the fall that Black Americans as well as those who are Hispanic or Latino were dying at disproportionately higher rates from COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic, white Americans.

Researchers have linked the higher rates of deaths in those groups to social factors including housing and employment as well as some health factors including higher rates of diabetes and other underlying conditions in those communities.

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