Data shows that Maine has the distressing distinction of leading the nation with the worst racial disparities regarding COVID-19’s impact. The percentage of Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) who have tested positive for COVID-19 is twenty times higher than for whites, and exceeds their percentage of Maine’s population by as much as 27% in cases where race is known.
On June 24, 2020, leaders from Maine’s African American, Tribal, Latinx and African immigrant communities held a video press conference calling on Governor Mills to meet with them, and presented a list of asks to help address the disparities in public health, economic impacts, and the overarching systemic racism, that COVID-19 has exposed.
MeBIC supports these communities’ asks to be included as leadership voices in the planning and service delivery for how to better ensure that racial, ethnic, and immigrant minorities don’t contract COVID-19; that they get better contact tracing attention and healthcare than at present, and that funding is added to help tackle these challenges and to hire people from the affected groups to work with their communities. MeBIC also supports their ask that racism be declared a public health emergency. Finally, MeBIC believes it’s critical that their request that a task force be established to bring representatives of communities most affected by systemic racism to Augusta to lead the planning and efforts to dismantle the long established systems that have perpetuated inequities in every facet of society, culminating in the jobs, pre-existing health conditions, living conditions, and economic disadvantages that have contributed to COVID-19’s disparate impact on BIPOC communities.