WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Centers For Disease Control shows that COVID-19 patients of color are dying at much higher rates. 

Lawmakers are now taking unprecedented steps to understand why. 

The coronavirus has reached all corners of the country but isn’t impacting every community equally. 

“There is without question long standing disparities based on race as it relates to the health conditions of populations,” Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said. 

Sen. Harris says the coronavirus put a spotlight on those disparities. 

She’s sponsoring a new racial disparity task force to study coronavirus impacts on communities of color. 

“What we need to do is collect the data…use the data then to dictate how we will distribute resources in an equitable way,” Sen. Harris explained.

Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) says decades of discriminatory policies created conditions for unequal access to housing and health care. 

“People of color disproportionately lack access to quality, affordable health care,” Sen. Booker said. 

Booker says those factors contribute to the significantly higher death rates among coronavirus patients of color. He says the administration needs to track that data consistently.

“So that not only do we understand these disparities as a first step, but that we’re able to attune strategies to deal with these,” he said. 

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) says directing coronavirus-related resources to communities of color begins with directing more help for essential workers. 

“Low income areas are more at risk, therefore we need to allocate more resources. We need to make sure there’s more testing,” Rep. Sanchez said. “They’re more likely to work in those essential jobs that put them at risk for COVID-19.”

Rep. Sanchez supports Senator Harris’ task force as a long term strategy to address racial disparities beyond COVID-19.