Unbearable summer heat affects people of color even more during COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers say


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — As southwestern states battle record breaking temperatures well above 100 degrees, health experts and officials fear the pandemic’s hardest-hit cities are in even more danger.

The World Health Organization announced last week that the virus is more likely to be transmitted indoors than outside. However, in states like Texas and Oklahoma, outside is not safe either because it’s simply too hot.

On Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers talked to experts about how Americans can safely “swelter” in place.

Texas Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson said the Texas summer sun is no joke.

“Texas is no stranger to extreme heat… temperatures around 110 degrees,” Johnson said.

Johnson, however, said the heat and the pandemic form a deadly combination, especially for minorities.

“People of color and low-income communities are hit first, worst and hardest,” Johnson said.

Heather McTeer Toney with Moms Clean Air Force said communities of color are also spending more just to stay cool.

“Who can afford to pay over half their paycheck on air conditioning in the middle of a pandemic and a heatwave?” McTeer Toney asked.

To bring down that cost, Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas said the EPA has allocated millions of dollars to help vulnerable communities fight environmental inequalities.

Lucas agreed that more needs to be done, but said the climate plan Democrats introduced last month would make the situation worse. He said his own bill would double funding for climate research over the next 10 years.

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