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Hopkins leaders: Racial and ethnic health disparities amplified by pandemic are being addressed but more needs to be done | READER COMMENTARY

Extensive racial and economic disparities are emerging among victims of the coronavirus. In Los Angeles County, officials attribute the trend in part to systemic inequities and institutional racism. In this file photo, AltaMed Health Services staff member collects a sample on an oral swab for COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 in Boyle Heights, Calif.
Extensive racial and economic disparities are emerging among victims of the coronavirus. In Los Angeles County, officials attribute the trend in part to systemic inequities and institutional racism. In this file photo, AltaMed Health Services staff member collects a sample on an oral swab for COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 in Boyle Heights, Calif. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

In a recent story (“Latinos disproportionately hurt by coronavirus in Maryland, Baltimore and among Johns Hopkins patients,” May 12), The Baltimore Sun shone a light on the critically important issue of racial and ethnic health disparities among COVID-19 patients.

We are deeply concerned about the disproportionate toll that this pandemic is taking on communities of color here in Baltimore and around the country — including the devastating impact on Latinx communities. In response, we have mobilized across the institution to help solve this crisis at every level from policymakers to clinicians to economic and community support and engagement.

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As a leading public health research institution, we are one of the loudest voices asking for greater access to better data so that public health leaders can more strategically — and equitably — deploy resources. Last month, Hopkins’ President Ron Daniels and Marc Morial, the CEO and president of the Urban League, co-authored an op-ed that highlighted this need and called for more transparent data to guide wiser leadership in the response to this crisis, particularly as it relates to racial disparities.

Beyond calls for data to fuel smart policy responses, we are also working to address the disproportionate impacts on the frontlines. In our hospitals, our nurses and doctors work tirelessly to bring hope and healing to everyone who comes to us for care equally regardless of race, ethnicity, legal status or any other qualification.

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We are also working closely with community organizations across Baltimore to address this issue. Some of these efforts, like the work done by Centro Sol to bring food to families in need and communicate COVID-19 information to Latinx communities, were mentioned in the story. Others, like the public private partnership between Hopkins, the city, University of Maryland Medical System and CareFirst, also seek to help mitigate these disparities and respond to urgent needs of communities of color.

This is critically important work, and it’s making a difference in the lives of Baltimoreans every day. But we all need to do more, both in crafting interventions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Latinx community here and in addressing the underlying conditions that produced the disparities across the country. We will continue to do this work, across our institution, for as long as it takes.

Dr. Paul Rothman and Kevin Sowers, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University and president of the Johns Hopkins Health System.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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