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Cornell law professor sues NY health department, alleges discrimination against whites in COVID treatment

Cornell Law School Professor William Jacobson has filed a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health, alleging discrimination against white people in the organization’s distribution of COVID-19 treatments.

“I’m Suing To Stop New York’s Racially Discriminatory Covid Therapeutic Guidelines,” Jacobson announced Jan. 17 on Legal Insurrection, an online politics and law publication he launched in 2008.

Jacobson told The College Fix in an interview he was “shocked” when he read the “racially discriminatory guidelines.”

“It’s not often that such things are put in writing, but here the writing was clear that there are different standards for different races and ethnicities,” Jacobson said.

“One of many discriminatory scenarios under the guidelines is that eligibility for the medication for two otherwise healthy people is determined by skin color — the ‘non-white’ person is eligible, the ‘white’ person is not,” he said.

Jacobson, who has been targeted by leftists at Cornell for criticizing violence that occurred at the Black Lives Matter protests, is represented by America First Legal.

Jacobson said there are parallels between discriminatory COVID treatment policies and critical race theory and “anti-racism” initiatives pushed in schools.

“The CRT and ‘anti-racism’ college initiatives are not part of the case, but stem from the same discriminatory concept that current discrimination is justified due to past discrimination,” he said.

The lawsuit alleges that the New York health department automatically prioritizes “non-whites” and individuals with “Hispanic/Latino ethnicity” in distributing COVID treatments.

“Under these guidelines … white individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are ineligible for oral antiviral treatments unless they also demonstrate ‘a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness,’” the lawsuit argues.

“But similarly situated ‘non-white’ or ‘Hispanic/Latino’ individuals are automatically eligible for these life-saving antiviral treatments—regardless of the individual’s medical situation—because New York has proclaimed that one’s status as a racial or ethnic minority is itself a ‘risk factor’ for severe illness from COVID-19, even if the individual has no pre-existing condition that would make him more susceptible to harm from COVID-19.”

The result, the lawsuit alleges, is that people of color who test positive for COVID automatically qualify for vital treatments, while an “identically situated” white individual is ineligible unless he or she demonstrates a “medical condition” or “risk factor.”

The New York Department of Health provided The College Fix with a statement that disputes the allegations:

“While we cannot comment on pending litigation, in the guidance, NYSDOH is advising health care providers to consider a number of health-based risk factors for individuals when providing this treatment. These are neither qualifications, nor requirements for treatments. Qualifying risk factors include a long list of medical conditions, as well as age and vaccination status. Additionally, the guidance states that ‘Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.’ This inclusion as one of many risk factors to be considered is based on CDC guidelines that show COVID-19 mortality rates are higher among certain demographic groups, including senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals and non-white/Hispanic communities. It is important to note that no one in New York who is otherwise qualified based on their individual risk factors will be turned away from life-saving treatment because of their race or any demographic identifier.”

The lawsuit argues such practices are “unconstitutional” and should be ended immediately.

It specifically alleges the racial COVID treatment distribution policies violate the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funds, and even the Affordable Care Act, which also prohibits racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funds.

Jacobson told The College Fix that “so-called ‘equity’ is the euphemism used in the diversity, equity and inclusion paradigm. It doesn’t work in higher education, and is downright dangerous in medicine.”

MORE: Three major Virginia universities scrap COVID booster mandate after AG calls them unlawful

IMAGE: Legal Insurrection 

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About the Author
Joe Silverstein -- Cornell University