The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and 12 ACLU affiliates sent letters to state officials and state departments of health across the country urging those offices to collect and release aggregate race, ethnicity and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, infections and deaths, to the extent consistent with privacy laws. The organization is calling on the standardization and release of the data in order for government entities to effectively address this pandemic, direct resources where they are most needed, and better protect all communities. The ACLU of Florida is also calling for the implementation of testing of all individuals held in state or county institutions, such as prisons, jails, and youth detention, who desire to be tested.
“It is imperative that we make data about testing in Florida available to the public,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “We are grateful that the Florida Department of Health is collecting and releasing demographic data of COVID-19 infections and deaths, but we also need to know whether communities of color have equal and unencumbered access to testing. COVID-19 has a disparate impact on Black people. In order to keep communities of color safe, we need to make this data publicly available to identify communities that are in particular need of support.”
“Racial disparities in health care, policing and incarceration, and who holds ‘essential’ jobs, are among factors that make people of color among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ReNika Moore, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU. “We have to address this pandemic through a racial justice lens, including by collecting and reporting accurate data on rates of infection and outcomes by race. We must take action to protect those most vulnerable.”
“Racial disparities in health care, policing and incarceration, and who holds ‘essential’ jobs, are among factors that make people of color among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
ReNika Moore, ACLU
In a separate letter, the ACLU of Florida is also calling on Attorney General Moody to publicly denounce xenophobia and attacks on Asian Americans. This is not the first time that marginalized communities—including people of Asian descent—have faced increasing harassment and violence in the face of a national emergency. In just two weeks, Asian Americans reported experiencing over 1,100 racist acts.
“Hatred and discrimination cannot be tolerated in Florida or anywhere,” said Kirk Bailey, political director of the ACLU of Florida. “Across the country, Asian Americans have reported experiencing increasing incidents of hate, discrimination, and violence. As the pandemic continues to take a toll on our country, it is imperative that our state officials do everything they can to ensure that people do not have to live in fear of harassment or violence, especially while trying to take care of themselves and their loved ones.”
Letter to the Florida Department of Health is here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/aclu-florida-letter-florida-surgeon-general-re-covid-19
Letter to the Office of the Attorney General of Florida is here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/aclu-florida-letter-office-attorney-general-re-asian-american-discrimination
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