Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the COVID-19 response to the pandemic had exposed “undeniable effects of racism” and led to unacceptable health disparities in the African American, Hispanic and Native American communities across the U.S.
“COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our own society’s failings,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a graduation ceremony for Emory University.
Fauci told graduates at a virtual Emory University graduation ceremony in Atlanta that “many members of minority groups work in essential jobs where they might be exposed to the coronavirus. He also said they are more likely to become infected if exposed because of medical conditions such as hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes or obesity,” Associated Press reported.
“Now, very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants,” Fauci said. “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.”
“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.”
Fauci was also awarded the Emory University president’s medal Sunday. Previous recipients include the Dalai Lama and the former President Jimmy Carter. Fauci praised the graduates for handling the disruption of the pandemic and denounced the divisiveness during the “pandemic.”
“Societal divisiveness is counterproductive in a pandemic,” Fauci said. “We must not be at odds with each other since the virus is the enemy, not each other.”
“Not since the influenza pandemic of 1918 has humanity faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,” he said. “Each of you deserves enormous respect for your extraordinary adaptability, resilience and dedication to learning, completing your studies and graduating despite immense difficulties and uncertainties.”