The New York City Board of Health has officially declared racism a public health crisis and is issuing guidelines to achieve a more “racially just” recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release, Dr. David A. Chokshi, the board’s chair and commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the move was made "to build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis."
"The Covid-19 pandemic magnified inequalities, leading to suffering disproportionally borne by communities of color in our City and across the nation," he added.
Chokshi says the inequities of health along racial lines are not inevitable and the resolution adopted Monday (October 18) is meant to recognize “this crisis and demand action.”
In addition to the resolution, the board also offered recommendations for the health department, including reviewing the effect policies have contributed to racial inequities and making suggestions to the city’s Racial Justice Commission. They also suggest the formation of a “data for equity” group to ensure that the department interprets health data through an anti-racism perspective.
"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," the statement read.
New York is just the latest city in America to declare racism a public health crisis. The American Public Health Association reports that from 2019 to October 2020, around 70 cities, three dozen counties and three states have made similar declarations.
National Cancer Institute researchers released a study this month concluding that COVID-19 killed a disproportionate number of Black, Latino, and Native American people last year, which exacerbated health disparities among the groups.