Harlem’s Levine, SOMOS And Others On President Biden’s Directive On Bigotry

Today, SOMOS President Dr. Henry Chen of NYC’s leading physician-led healthcare network, representing over 250 Chinese Doctors and serving over 200,000 Chinese New Yorkers.

Released the following statement regarding President Biden’s Presidential Memorandum acknowledging the harm of increased rates of harassment and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Memorandum directs the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards AAPIs in the federal government’s COVID-19 response.



“This week, President Biden is recognizing something we as community doctors have been combatting long before the pandemic hit: systematic barriers that limit the AAPI community’s accessibility to medical information and resources,” said SOMOS President Dr. Henry Chen. “In New York alone, the COVID-19 pandemic took more than 2,000 lives within the Chinese community, not including some of the undocumented immigrants who are our neighbors but whose names never made it on the list. Like many Americans, we are living in fear: fear that we will lose our jobs and fear that we will lose our loved ones. But we also live in fear of something else: the rise of bigotry and hate against our community. There is a saying in Chinese ‘亡羊补牢未为晚也’ which translates to ‘It is not too late to mend the fold even after some of the sheep have been lost.’ President Biden’s memorandum is a step in the right direction to mending the fold. The Chinese community has suffered beyond measure these past ten months but together – and with the Biden Administration leading by example and empowering local leaders of the AAPI communities – we can begin our work to prevent these same tragedies from happening again. I encourage the President and his Administration to work with physician-led networks of Chinese community and family doctors, like SOMOS, who are the first line of defense when a public health crisis hits vulnerable communities – especially those in immigrant communities who are typically isolated by culture, language, poverty, and customs.”

Last month, SOMOS in conjunction with New York City Representative Grace Meng, Council Member Peter Koo, and Council Member Mark Levine joined prominent Chinese doctors and Chinese community leaders to re-launch SOMOS’s State of Chinese Health after months of COVID-fueled threats to Chinese New Yorkers’ physical and mental health.

Together, doctors and elected officials discussed the barriers to health equity facing the city’s fastest-growing community – including language differences, scarce data, insurance status, the myth of the model minority, and the violent racism unfortunately antagonized by many in leadership today.

Fast Facts:

A recent report by the United Nations noted that racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached record levels across the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From March to May of 2020, more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported over an eight-week period.

From March to May of 2020, more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported over an eight-week period.

The Chinese community is one of the most vulnerable and underserved segments in New York City.

Nearly a fifth live under the poverty line, third lack citizenship, and nearly two-thirds have very limited English proficiency.

COVID-19 claimed more than 2,000 lives within the Asian communities, not including some of the undocumented immigrants.

The hospitalization rate of Asian American patients was 20% higher than white, non-Hispanic patients and Asian patients were 53% more likely to die.

The hospitalization rate of Asian American patients was 20% higher than white, non-Hispanic patients and Asian patients were 53% more likely to die.

SOMOS and SOMOS US form the foundation of an innovative, value-based care network of over 2,500 diverse physicians and health care providers serving nearly 1 million people in New York City.

SOMOS and SOMOS US form the foundation of an innovative, value-based care network of over 2,500 diverse physicians and health care providers serving nearly 1 million people in New York City.

SOMOS has created a new model of quality healthcare on behalf of the most underserved communities of the United States, a model based on cultural competency, increased access and the ability of community-based medicine to successfully address the social determinants of health.

SOMOS is the shared vision of Dr. Ramon Tallaj and Henry R. Muñoz, III, a doctor, and a designer, working together to create institutional change.

This year, SOMOS doctors and healthcare workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis since our Latino and Asian doctors working in the neighborhoods of New York saw the escalating illness and mortality rates in the inner city.

SOMOS established over 60 trilingual testing sites, in New York, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, and is providing treatment, health education, and millions of meals to those who need to care the most.

SOMOS commissioned the first national polling data on the impact of this pandemic on the health, economic and educational wellbeing of the Latino Community in the United States.

Photo credit: Mark Levine.

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