Biden’s COVID-19 Plan Must Prioritize and Educate Incarcerated People

January 15, 2021

Statement from DeAnna Hoskins, President / CEO of JustLeadershipUSA

NEW YORK — On Thursday, president-elect Joe Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion rescue package to address Covid-19 and the country’s economic crisis, including more than $400 billion to combat coronavirus specifically. Highlights include: Increased stimulus payments and unemployment benefits, rental assistance and eviction moratoriums, help for the hungry, increased tax credits, subsidies for health insurance premiums, increased support for vaccines and widespread testing and an increase in minimum wage. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement in response:

“We applaud president-elect Biden for committing more money to addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, including speeding up distribution of vaccines and creating community vaccination centers around the country. As we have seen, Black and brown people are disproportionately at risk for the virus, and plans must be put in place to protect their health and safety.

“But the incoming administration must also ensure that vaccines for incarcerated people are prioritized and that they are properly informed of their medical treatment. For too long, the science and medical community has devalued and mistreated marginalized people — from the syphilis experiments at the Tuskegee Institute in the mid-1900s to the ‘father of gynecology’ J. Marion Sims developing a fistula treatment on enslaved women in the 1840s — that have now left Black Americans rightfully wary of new vaccines. The medical community has taken steps to make sure this never happens again, by recognizing systemic racism, but more needs to be done.

“We demand that the incoming administration take additional measures to protect this most vulnerable population, by authorizing a task force that is inclusive of a formerly incarcerated person to develop the tools necessary to educate and reduce the hesitancy of the vaccine. Accessible authentic information is a vital first step in saving incarcerated people’s lives from this virus.”

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