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Issue Brief Crisis Standards of CareHealth and Health Care

COVID-19: Racial Disparities and Crisis Standards of Care

May 6, 2020


Recent racial demographic data suggests huge racial disparities in COVID-19 infections and death. The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated states to develop Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) plans responsive to possible shortfalls in resources, such as ventilators. The emergence of these two circumstances (racial inequities) and CSC planning (anticipated resource shortfalls) raises the question of how CSC planning might incorporate growing racial justice concerns about COVID-19 and resource allocation.

This issue brief examines evidence of racial disparities with respect to COVID-19 infections and deaths, possible causes, and legal protections against race discrimination. It also provides an overview of CSC planning, including key ethical features that may be utilized to ensure that CSC planning incorporates concerns about racial inequity.