Sarbanes, Maryland Congressional Delegation Press Governor Hogan to Address COVID-19 Racial Disparities and Expand Testing

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and the Maryland Congressional Delegation today urged Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to use race and ethnic data to develop a plan to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color in Maryland.

The Members also asked the Governor to lay out his plans to expand testing throughout Maryland, especially by tapping community-based organizations.

“The State recognized the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and identified the public health risks associated with COVID-19 outbreaks among poultry processing plant workers on the Eastern Shore,” the Members wrote. “In both cases, the State has rightly started to commit resources and develop policies to address infection rates among these populations. Similarly, the infection and mortality rates we are seeing among communities of color justify a targeted plan of action.”

The Members continued: “Without adequate testing, it is impossible to know how pervasive the virus is in these communities, or to accurately measure the progress of our mitigation efforts. Given the importance of testing, we ask you to outline your plan for how the State intends to spend the more than $205 million in federal funding Maryland received from the last COVID-19 relief law to expand statewide testing capacity, particularly in communities hardest hit by this pandemic.”

The Members concluded: “We believe a critical element of any plan developed must seek to understand the unique needs and cultural and sociological differences of various communities in coordination with a trusted research partner. The plan should follow the lead of other states like New York and Michigan and integrate partnerships with trusted community-based organizations, such as churches and other members of the faith-based community, and bolster the existing public health workforce with members of these communities.”