public health

Town Leaders Discuss Impacts of Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

NBC Universal, Inc.

The murder of George Floyd coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic led to cities and towns declaring racism a public health crisis.

The culmination of a racial reckoning in the country and the pandemic brought to the forefront many issues affecting communities of color. Across the state, many elected leaders chose to acknowledge racism and attack systemic changes head-on.

"Bloomfield has taken a very strong stance that we will not tolerate any form of racism here," said Bloomfield's Mayor Suzette DeBeatham-Brown. "It's important to realize that lack of medical insurance and being under-medicated that's a problem and we want to highlight these issues."

Cultural sensitivity training and hiring a diverse workforce are some of the steps being taken. The town council has approved a budget that will create a social worker position inside the police department.

Community organizations like Health Equity Solutions have started collecting data on the health disparities for municipalities.

"We want to be able to use this data to support others to now see the importance of collecting and additionally it will be used to identify the impact of racism on our population," said Ayesha Clarke, the deputy director of Health Equity Solutions. "This will help us have the ability for accessibility and transparency across our state."

Manchester also declared racism as a public health crisis. The town is collecting health disparities data and have created a resolution to ensure their hiring candidate pool is diverse. The town is also addressing issues with housing and making sure they have the resources to help those behind on their rent.

The decision to acknowledge the disparities is a great first step according to local health organizations and some activists.

"First you find the problem and then you begin to resolve the problem but we can't do that if we can't admit that racism is a big idea," said Ivelisse Correa, C.F.O of BLM860.

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