New York City Declares Racism A ‘Public Health Crisis’

(Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

Chrissy Clark Contributor
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New York City’s Board of Health passed a resolution Monday declaring racism a “public health crisis.” 

“Today the NYC Board of Health passed a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. NYC’s resolution is one of the first in the nation to tie specific actions to its declaration,” the department tweeted.

The resolution requires the Health Department to make recommendations to the city’s Racial Justice Commission, a branch of government that maintains “racial inequity and discrimination are baked into our institutions and society.” The NYC Health Department will also establish a “Data for Equity working group” and perform an “anti-racism” review of the city’s health code. 

A report on the progress of the department’s “anti-racism” agenda will be released semi-annually, according to the resolution. 

In a press release, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi stated that the coronavirus pandemic “magnified” the alleged racial inequities in public health. 

“To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis,” Chokshi said. “The COVID-19 pandemic magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across our nation.” (RELATED: Boston Mayor Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis)

The resolution is a response to the Health Department’s June 2020 declaration on the alleged racial injustice in public health. 

The statement reads: 

Racism is a public health crisis. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers is part of the system of racism that permits police brutality, unjust policing and mass incarceration. In NYC, Black and Brown communities face the disproportionate impact, grief and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the trauma of state sanctioned violence. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is committed to addressing structural racism within our own institution and addressing racism as a social determinant of health as part of our mission to protect the health of New Yorkers. To make lasting change, we call on our sister city agencies to address structural racism in their own organizations: Join us in this stand against injustice to do better in service of Black, Brown and all New Yorkers. 

Approximately 150 health entities or city councils have declared racism a “public health crisis,” as well, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the guidance of President Joe Biden’s appointee Dr. Rochelle Wolensky.