COVID-19’s effects have underscored the ways our nation’s history of racism, bias, and discrimination are embedded in our health, social, and economic systems. People of color are experiencing disproportionately more infections and hospitalizations – and among Black people, highly disproportionate death rates – with people of color also overrepresented in jobs that are at higher infection risk now and in the jobs hardest hit economically. Shaping these outcomes are structural barriers like wealth and income disparities, inadequate access to health care, and racial discrimination built into the health system. States therefore have critical policy choices to make: they can repeat and exacerbate these inequities, which also will damage the economy, or they can set another course – toward anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive communities and an economic recovery that extends to all people.
Three principles should guide state policymakers in these equity efforts:
- Target aid to those most in need due to the COVID-19 and consequent economic crises.
- Advance anti-racist and equitable policies – both short- and long-term – to dismantle persistent racial, gender, and economic inequities and other barriers that non-dominant groups and identities experience.
- Protect state finances to preserve the foundations of long-term economic growth and opportunity.