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There is a harsh reality for people living with the COVID-19 restrictions in the same city. Though the virus has been called an equal opportunity threat, the truth is that it has had a deadly, disproportionate impact on Black and Brown people. The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed communities of color. Among Black Americans, who make up around 13% of the U.S. population, the COVID-19 infection and death rate are disproportionally high.

To curb the spread of this infectious disease, the CDC has advanced simple advice: apply social distancing guidelines. Social distancing (physical distancing) requires people to keep at least six feet from other people who are not in the same household. Though social distancing is an effective tool to help curb the spread of COVID-19, this simple mitigation strategy is not available to everyone. What is worse, the availability of social distancing measures at home or work often falls along racial lines. Structural racism has even impacted the ability of Black people to implement this simple mitigation strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare in several significant ways the structural inequities that grip Black Americans, even exacerbating the impact of a global pandemic. An expansive array of short-term and long-term proposals have been explored to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. This Article proposes the inclusion of mandatory racial equity impact assessments into the COVID-19 response efforts. Recent federal action is one important step toward explicitly assessing race equity goals in response efforts, but mandatory assessments focused on racial equity are needed in the planning stage to minimize unintended racialized outcomes.

Anti-racist solutions must be embraced to close the gap in these structural inequities that leave Black Americans more exposed to COVID-19. To ensure that social distancing and other mitigation strategies are equally available, both federal and state governments should be required to assess the racial equity implications for COVID-19 response efforts. Lawmakers must continue to expand the reach of COVID-19 relief efforts to explicitly acknowledge race and minimize unintended, racialized, negative outcomes. A consistent, deliberate acknowledgement of race in crafting response measures is needed to create equitable, sustainable corrections.