Theresa Greenfield has falsely accused Iowa’s healthcare workers of systemic racism, saying that Blacks in general and Black women specifically have a six times higher mortality rate than any other community.

The press has given her a pass.

The Senate Majority PAC ran a vicious attack ad against U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, suggesting that her comments, later modified, indicated that she has doubts about the accuracy of the COVID-19 death count. The ad says this shows that Senator Ernst is “spreading lies that attack frontline health care workers.”  The Des Moines Register also gave her a “thistle” for her comments.

It is completely illogical to suggest that a desire to ensure that coronavirus death statistics are accurate is an attack on healthcare workers.  In fact, a healthcare worker, Minnesota family physician Dr. Scott Jensen, who was named that state’s family physician of the year in 2016, has expressed concerns about these counts’ accuracy, including a concern that high Medicare payments for coronavirus diagnosis may influence how deaths are recorded.  There has been an attack on Dr. Jensen through anonymous ethics complaints against him because he has spoken out.  These complaints were dropped by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, which took no action against his license.  

There is no discrepancy or conflict between wanting to have an accurate count and having the highest respect and appreciation for our health care workers, which Senator Ernst undoubtedly has. 

Theresa Greenfield, however, has insulted all Iowa health care workers by falsely stating that the health care system engages in systemic racism and discrimination across Iowa against the Black community and Black women resulting in a mortality rate that is six times higher than that of any other community. 

Her exact words are given in an interview with WHO TV’s Dave Price on August 29, 2020 (starting at 5:19 on the video below):

“Can you explain to Iowans what exactly, what kind of changes do you want when it comes to law enforcement?  That whole concept of ‘defund the police’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  What does Defund the Police mean to you as a senator?” Price asked.

“Well, I don’t support defunding the police.  So I can’t explain that for you this morning, Dave.  But I can tell you, we do need to address systemic racism not only in our policing but in our housing policies and systems, in education, in health care, in financing,  lending and so much more.  And for me, that is a serious conversation about reform. And we need to sit down and take a look at how we reform all of these systems to make sure that we end racism and discrimination,” Greenfield answered (emphasis mine).

“As you know, some people don’t believe that systemic racism even exists, much less that anything needs to be done about it.  In your mind, just that term itself, what does that mean to you?  “Systemic racism”, what does that mean?” Price asked in a follow-up question (emphasis mine).

Greenfield responded.

“Well, we know right here in Polk County where I live that minority owned businesses, for example, get denied business loans at twice the rate of any other business.  In our health care systems, for example, across Iowa,  we know that black community, black women, their mortality rate is six times higher than anyone else, any other community across the state.  And so, we need to take a look at why that is happening.  And what we can do to change it. And for me, that means we need to address that kind of discrimination and take a deep look at all of the reforms for these systems to make sure that things are fair and level.  And we are taking care of all of us,” she said (emphasis mine).

The care provided by the Iowa healthcare system is not provided by ghosts and robots.  It is provided by flesh and blood health care workers, doctors, nurses, physician assistants,  certified nursing assistants and others.  Legitimate charges of racism must be investigated and corrected.  But Theresa Greenfield’s obviously false charges of discrimination by the healthcare workers, who protect us, are an actual attack on those workers. 

The mortality rate for Blacks in Iowa and Black women in Iowa is NOT, as Greenfield charges, “six times higher than . . . any other community across the state.”   The mortality rate for Blacks in Iowa is less than half the mortality rate for whites.  The mortality rate for Black women is less than half of the mortality rate for white women.  

One of the worse things a person in our society can be called is a racist.  We ought to be thanking our healthcare workers for the excellent job they do in caring for Iowans of all races, not defaming them with false charges of racism and discrimination.  Theresa Greenfield owes Iowa’s healthcare workers an apology. 

Where have you seen any mention of Greenfield’s false attack on healthcare workers in the media?  She has completely gotten away with it.

The actual statistics are as follows: 

IOWA WHITE V. BLACK MORTALITY RATES

The Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Iowa Department of Public Health provide the same population numbers for, respectively, the Iowa  White and Black (African American) populations.  The population of white males and females and Black males and females in Iowa is derived from the CDC website application.   The deaths for white males and females and Black males and females are from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Iowa Department of Public Health.  

White Population 2018:  2,896,007

Black Population 2018:  146,954

Deaths White Male: 14,720 White Female: 14656   TOTAL: 29376

Deaths Black Male:  368  Black Female:  269 TOTAL:  637

29376 white deaths/ 2896007 white population = .0101436 = 1.0% death rate for whites.

100000 / 2896007 = .0345303  29376 X .0345303 = 1014.36 per 100000 death rate whites..

637 Black deaths/ 146954 Black population = .0043346 = .43% death rate for Blacks. 

100000/ 146954 = .680145    637 X .680145 = 433.46 per 100000 death rate for Blacks..

IOWA WHITE FEMALE V. BLACK FEMALE MORTALITY RATES

 Black female and white female population in Iowa for 2018 is from the CDC website application

According to the 2018 Vital Statistics of Iowa (Table 15A on page 72), there were a total of 14656 white female deaths in Iowa and 269 Black female deaths in Iowa.  

14656 white female deaths/ 1,460,331 white female population = .1.0% death rate for white females.

100000 / 1,460,331= .0684776   14656 X .0684776  = 1003.60  per 100000 death rate white females.

269  Black female deaths /  68,959 black female population = .0039008 or .39% death rate for Black females. 

100000 / 68589 = 1.4579597    269 X 1.4579597 = 392.19 per 100000 death rate for Black  females. 

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