During Senate Aging Hearing, Rosen Questions Medical Experts About the Disproportionate Effect of COVID-19 on Communities of Color

Watch Senator Rosen’s full remarks here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a hearing of the Senate Aging Committee, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen questioned medical experts on the effect race has on health outcomes among seniors of color affected by COVID-19, and to identify ways in which Congress can help address these dramatic health disparities. During her questioning, Senator Rosen heard from Dr. Dominic Mack, Professor of Family Medicine and Director of the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Professor of Epidemiology and Vice Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University

“Racial and ethnic health disparities persist because of longstanding inequities in working, living, health, and social conditions,” said Senator Rosen. “We see the manifestations of such disparities everywhere. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the Southern Nevada Health District shows that Latinos are dying at a higher rate than any other group in the region. In Northern Nevada, the Latino population has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Washoe County, even though Latinos only make up a quarter of the total county population.”

“Too often, inadequate access to care and underlying biases place racial and ethnic minorities, and especially seniors of color, at greater risk of complications due to COVID-19,” Senator Rosen continued. “Research also suggests that provider actions may be influenced by implicit biases, which impact delivery of medical care – sometimes without medical providers even realizing it. I’m glad to see that the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sanford Center for Aging is taking steps to combat the impact of implicit racial bias by requiring staff to attend trainings on the subject. The Sanford Center is also taking steps to review both its internal policies and the Gerontology academic program curriculum to ensure they include economic, social, and policy content that address the impact of racial disparities.”

“As both researchers and educators, how can we best train our medical students – and all of our medical professionals — to identify and understand their own implicit biases so they recognize how this can contribute to their decision making and delivery of care, and what types of practices do you think are worth investing in to make the most success [in recognizing implicit bias in medicine]?” Senator Rosen asked Dr. Mack and Dr. Carnethon.