The FDA recently authorized the use of new oral antiviral therapies to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, but only those patients who are at high risk for progression to severe disease, regardless of vaccination status. With the authorization came “guidance” as to who may be considered “high risk.” Thus, “medical conditions [such as older age, obesity, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease] or other factors… such as race or ethnicity…place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.”

New York State quickly spelled out its own version of the qualifying factors, including this one: “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.”

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Even before the federal and state “guidance,” New York City, under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, had jumped the gun and routinely used race as a key determiner for allocating COVID-19 resources. As reported by the New York Post, his Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity identified 31 neighborhoods that were slated to receive “priority” attention in light of pre-existing “structural racism” and “white privilege.” Areas deemed too “white” or “privileged” were last to get testing resources.

In sum, all other risk factors such as age, immunity and vaccination status being equal, non-white and Hispanic/Latino populations will be granted superior treatment.

Happily, Eric Adams, NYC’s new mayor, seems intent on moving his administration away from this sort of thing and has quickly opened testing sites in several under-served areas.

Hopefully this is but the first step, even if an undramatic one, in the elimination of racial and ethnic preference from all levels of government. The idea that in 2022 race should be an official factor in government allocation of limited resources boggles the mind.

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