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VIDEO: Piedmont Rising, NC Advocates Highlight Alarming Statistics Around COVID-19 and Minorities

VIDEO: Piedmont Rising, NC Advocates Highlight Alarming Statistics Around COVID-19 and Minorities

Amidst Pandemic, NC Advocates Call for Medicaid Expansion, Enhanced Coronavirus Data Collection, and Protections for Frontline Workers

Raleigh, N.C. – ​Last night, Piedmont Rising hosted a virtual town hall focusing on the health and economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of federal response efforts, and how activists can apply pressure to ensure health care is equitably accessible and affordable.

A recent report released by Piedmont Rising found that minority communities across North Carolina are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic more severely than other groups in terms of the number of deaths and diagnosed cases. The report points to policy decisions that have contributed to these racial disparities in health care.

Each expert spoke to the health and economic effects of COVID-19 and what North Carolinians can do to ignite change.

To watch the full town hall, click here.

Natalie Niemeyer, Piedmont Rising Research Director, said:

“Especially in the midst of a global pandemic, policymakers have an obligation to help address these racial inequities by expanding Medicaid and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“One of the things (that have) been very clear is that, according to the latest reports from NCDHHS, roughly seventeen percent of confirmed Coronavirus cases in North Carolina are coming from the Hispanic community which is disproportionately high. The big takeaway is that experts have made it very clear that is probably drastically underreported because of hugely disproportionate access to health care coverage.”

Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, President/CEO of El Centro Hispano Inc., said:

“It’s difficult to see that many people (in the Latino community) were left out of the stimulus bill — even when many are mixed-status families and are considered essential workers.

"We are urging our government to look after our workers to show that they are truly essential by supporting them with safety measures to ensure their health as they continue working, but also the economic help they need.”

Xaviera “Zay” Bell, Executive Director of Zeal of Xander, said:

“It is critically important that we take hold of the situation. We need Medicaid expansion because there are people falling through the gaps. As a village we must be responsible for the villagers — what that means is that we have to bear this burden as a community and not alone.

“I had to learn that it serves no one to be silent about a problem that we see. The best thing that we can do is be vocal about it and put actions behind [our] words.”

The virtual town hall concluded with a call to action from Piedmont Rising Executive Director, Casey Wilkinson, for callers to get civically engaged and ensure lawmakers are held accountable to the communities that they serve, especially in times of crisis.

“It is rare for us to have a conversation with someone who does not have a health care story — whether it’s about a lack of access (to health care) or debilitating costs. We have to engage and have these conversations. We all have a voice. I encourage everyone to join this call to action — send an email to your network, share your story on our website so that we can proactively amplify your voices to impact change and improve health care for all North Carolinians,” said Wilkinson.

For more information about remedies and measures that Piedmont Rising is taking to bring attention to this pandemic visit

Media Contact:

Jessica Coscia


About Piedmont Rising

Piedmont Rising is a 501 (c)4 issue advocacy organization built by and for North Carolinians to advocate for lower insurance premiums and prescription drug costs and to ensure that more people have access to safe and affordable health care. Through grassroots organizing, education, and engagement, we are amplifying our health care stories and holding our elected officials accountable to the people, and issues they were elected to represent.

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