The state of Ohio is rolling out a new initiative to tackle the racial health disparity with COVID-19. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says there's a major issue the state and country can address in order to improve minority health; worker protection.
Brown believes there's a serious lack of worker protection as essential businesses continue to operate and more companies reopen.
He says creating a system that allows workers to hold their employers accountable to a safe workplace and ramping up testing can be big steps towards protecting at-risk minorities from the virus.
"The people who are now in the workplace, these essential jobs which don't pay enough and don't protect workers are mostly women, they're disproportionately people of color. A grocery store worker said to me 'I know they call me essential, but they don't pay me much and they don't protect me,'" says Brown.
The senator is also pushing for additional hazard pay for essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, from health care staff to grocery employees.
Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledges that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people of color. He unveiled some steps the state's will take to address the issue, which includes:
- Establishing culturally appropriate, accessible COVID-19 exposure notification services
- Expanding testing capacity and access for minorities in high risk populations
- Using data to prioritize resources in communities with the highest need
- Developing and launching a statewide, culturally sensitive outreach campaign that educates African Americans and other communities of color on COVID-19
The measures are recommendations from DeWine's "Minority Health Strike Force" which plans to come up with a larger plan in the coming weeks.