NYC declares racism a public health crisis citing COVID

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New York City officially declared racism a public health crisis in the city. 

“We must confront racism as a public health crisis. This pandemic magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color. But these inequities are not inevitable,” New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi wrote on Twitter Monday.

The city’s Board of Health passed a resolution on Monday that cited America’s history with slavery and the impacts of the coronavirus felt by minority communities. The Board of Health is mostly composed of members appointed by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York Post reported

The resolution calls on health officials to help address racism in their own policies, including implementing policies for “a racially just recovery from COVID-19, as well as other actions to address this public health crisis in the short and long term.” 

Other actions include: establishing ​​”a Data for Equity internal working group to ensure the agency apply an intersectional, anti-racism equity lens to public health data and provide annual guidance to other NYC Mayoral agencies on best practices to collect and make available to the Health Department relevant data to track and improve health equity;” and “That the NYC Health Department make recommendations on anti-racism, health-related NYC Charter revisions to the newly established Mayoral Racial Justice Commission to strengthen the NYC’s effort to combat racism.”

“We have chosen our words carefully this afternoon in presenting this to you as a resolution—rather than just a declaration—because we must be resolute,” Chokshi said at the board meeting, according to the Gothamist. “We must resolve to take action beyond our recognition of the problem.”

Other cities have also declared racism a public health crisis in recent months.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared racism a public health emergency in June. The city’s public health department said it would also allocate nearly $10 million in coronavirus relief funds to establish six Healthy Chicago Equity Zones to help improve community living. 

“At almost every single point in our city’s history, racism has taken a devastating toll on the health and well-being of our residents of color – especially those who are Black,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Without formally acknowledging this detrimental impact, we will never be able to move forward as a city and fully provide our communities with the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.”

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