WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed placed the biggest spotlight yet on the Black Lives Matter movement, the coronavirus pandemic has continued serving as a quieter reminder of the role race plays in times of crisis.

What You Need To Know

  • Coronavirus continues to impact Black Americans at higher rate

  • Hearing in U.S. House on Monday focused on health and business impact

  • Rep. Marcia Fudge said "Black people are sick of being on the menu.”

“I learned a long time ago; if you’re not at the table, you are on the menu,” Representative Marcia Fudge (D, 11th Congressional District) said. “Black people are sick of being on the menu.”

Fudge, a Cleveland-area Democrat, didn’t hold back in a hearing on this very topic on Monday.

Academic experts testified before the House Education and Labor Committee about the virus killing a disproportionate amount of Black people and closing more Black businesses compared to white Americans.

“Communities of color are more likely to be infected with the virus, and then once infected, they’re more likely to die,” said Dr. Camara Jones of Emory University. “They’re more likely to be infected because they’re more exposed and less protected. And then once infected, more likely to die because they are more burdened by chronic diseases with less access to health care.”

“Racial and ethnic disparities are worse when the economy is worse, and especially during the government-mandated shutdowns of the economy that we’re experiencing today,” Avik Roy of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity said.

In Ohio, 13-percent of the population is black, but African Americans currently make up 25-percent of COVID-19 cases and 18-percent of deaths.

Nationally, 41-percent of Black business owners reported not working in April, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research

Republicans in Monday’s hearing argued the main solution is reopening the country as soon as possible.

“Mandating further top-down federal laws and policies as proposed by House Democrats will only compound the challenges that all Americans currently face,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) said.

But Fudge has argued throughout the pandemic that this goes deeper than just reopening. She has said the federal government has to play a role by increasing food stamps, improving public education, and creating trust between Black Americans and health care institutions.

“Once again, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle live in an alternative universe with alternative facts,” Fudge said during the hearing.

Congress is still negotiating another potential coronavirus relief package.