Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on Thursday came up with a novel method that could have deterred the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S. Speaking on the House floor, the congresswoman declared that if reparations for slavery were already in effect, the pandemic could have been better contained.
While supporting H.R. 40, which would establish a federal commission to study reparations, Lee drew a direct line between slavery and the global pandemic.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee claims there's a direct connection between slavery and disparities in Covid-19 deaths, suggesting "reparations" could have "cut Covid-19 transmission and infection rates." pic.twitter.com/LC4jMURMEo
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 17, 2022
Lee cited statistics that Black Americans were infected by COVID almost 1.5 times more than White Americans, had a hospitalization rate almost four times higher and fatally succumbed to the virus three times more than their White counterparts.
From these figures, the Democrat claimed that “reparations for African Americans could have cut COVID-19 transmission and infection rates.” This result from prior reparations, she said, would have also benefited “the population at large.”
Studies show that the COVID mortality rate was higher among Black Americans during the initial months of the outbreak, though now the death rate among White Americans is greater.
In a Washington Post analysis of COVID deaths and disparities, the results showed the gap closed due to Whites now dying at higher rates.
This did not deter Lee, however, who doubled down on her push for a commission to study reparations for cost and effect. She asserted that prior reparations would have decreased the “wealth gap.”
In turn, she said, this would give more people access to better health care, higher education, and ease crowded living conditions for Black families. Citing a Harvard Medical School study, Lee said that work environments for the community also contributed to COVID’s spread.
Study co-author William Darity of Duke University noted that Black Americans have less net worth than White Americans. This, he said, “dramatically restricts the ability of Black Americans to survive and thrive.”
Wealth, he explained, is closely linked “with familial or individual well-being.”
Lee is grasping for straws to support her arguments for the redistribution of trillions of dollars in the U.S. economy. Death rates reversed over the course of the pandemic, with those of White Americans now surpassing other statistical groups.