The New York City Board of Health has passed a resolution declaring racism is a public health crisis. Moving forward, city officials will put "develop and implement priorities 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."
“To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across our nation. But these inequities are not inevitable. Today is [a] historic day for the country’s oldest Board of Health to officially recognize this crisis and demand action," New York Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Choksi said.
We’ve seen for years the negative impact racism has in our public health data and today, we’re recommitting ourselves to building a more equitable City. I thank the Board of Health for sharing our commitment to dismantling systemic racism," First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling added.
New York joins a long list of cities and states to declare racism is a public health crisis. As of July, the American Public Health Association reports that at least 70 cities have declared racism as a public health crisis.
"These declarations are an important first step to advancing racial equity and justice and must be followed by allocation of resources and strategic action," the American Public Health Association writes.
"While resolutions and formal statements are not necessarily legally enforceable, they can drive meaningful change."
To drive "meaningful change" at a local level, the city of New York has shared the following steps to recovery:
- That the NYC Health Department research, clarify, and acknowledge examples of its historic role in divesting and underinvesting in critical community-led health programs, and participate in a truth and reconciliation process with communities harmed by these actions when possible;
- That the NYC Health Department establish 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;
- 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;
- That the NYC Health Department continue collaborations with sister agencies to report on fatalities, injuries, health conditions, by race, gender, and other demographics, to improve data quality and care;
- That the NYC Health Department in consultation with relevant community organizations perform an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code to identify any existing provisions that support systemic and structural racism and bias and recommend new provisions to dismantle systemic and structural racism and bias;
- That the NYC Health Department partner with city agencies and relevant organizations, consistent with Local Law 174 (dated October 13, 2019) and Executive Order 45 (dated May 8, 2019), to advise on assessments of structural racism within policies, plans and budgets related to all determinants of health (transportation, education, housing, economic opportunities, civic participation and healthcare delivery contexts) and make recommendations to mitigate harm within a public health context; and
- That the NYC Health Department report twice each year to the BOH to promote the work associated with this resolution and to ensure Health Department accountability on progres