Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the fact that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color points to a larger problem.
"Racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans," she said in a statement. "As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation.
She said it goes beyond discrimination based on race or ethnicity and impacts where a person can live, worship and gather.
She said the CDC will study the impact of how racism affects health and implement solutions to address it.
The agency also launched a new website to serve as a space for information on its efforts and dialogue on the issue.
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