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Following Inequitable COVID-19 Health Outcomes, City Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

Elmhurst hospital and its surrounding neighborhoods were deemed the epicenter of the pandemic soon after COVID-19 broke out in NYC (QueensPost)

Oct. 19, 2021 By Max Parrott

More than a year after communities of color in Queens bore some of the most deadly impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York City Board of Health has passed a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis.

The resolution begins by recognizing the history “of structural racism impacting services and care across all institutions within our society,” and from there calls for the creation of a list of studies, working groups, internal reviews and collaborations with other city agencies and community groups.

“To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis,” said city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi in a statement. “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.”

The announcement makes the city the latest in more than 200 government institutions that have made similar declarations of racism as a public health crisis across the U.S.

In Queens, the pandemic exposed the dangers of healthcare divestment. A shortage of beds left the eight remaining hospitals in the borough overburdened at the peak of the pandemic. After four hospitals closed between 2008 and 2012, the borough was left with the least number of beds per capita in the city as it became the epicenter of the city’s viral spread.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed what we’ve been saying for years about the disparity in healthcare that exists in our borough,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said after his election victory last year.

Though the language of the resolution framed it as a response to the disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and death suffered by Black, indigenous and people of color, its scope also pertains to a broad span of effects from disproportionate healthcare services, including HIV, maternal and infant mortality mental health conditions.

It charges the city Health Department with researching historical examples where its divested resources from or underinvested in health programs and responding by participating “in a truth and reconciliation process with communities harmed by these actions when possible.”

Additionally, it encourages DOH to collaborate with other city agencies to improve its data collection regarding racial inequities and makes assessments of structural racism within policies, plans and budgets. Outside city government, the resolution calls on the DOH to consult with relevant community organizations to “perform an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code.”

“I commend the New York City Board of Health for joining some 200 jurisdictions and institutions across the country to declare racism a public health crisis,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the former city Heath Commissioner and incoming head of the state DOH, in a statement.

“Crucially, this call places centrality on complete and timely data and community collaboration. To assess the extent of the harm of racism to health and longevity is key to long overdue redress. I urge others to follow the Board’s example.”

The resolution goes into effect immediately.

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24 Comments

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Adios de blasio

Any excuse to scream racism
These clowns should resign
Deblasio and his wife are two of the biggest racists in nyc

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Allie

Teach somebody the world is racist against them, and they’ll believe that everything bad that happens to them is because of racism.

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Wei

So if systemic racism explains the difference in health between racial groups, what explains the variance within one racial group? Where does culture fit in the equation?

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Vicky

First – define your terms and tell us how “racism” is measured. Then remember, correlation does not equal causation. Next, talk to us about epistemology.

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Rebecca

Most of my anger and health issues I have as an adult can be traced to the racial discrimination I received as a child living and going to school in Sunnyside and NYC. Anger leads to depression, and that leads to poor health both mentally and physically.

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Jasmine

Thank you for posting this and not staying silent! Western Queens is very racists when it comes to jobs, housing and access to health resources.

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Jessica

I hope we as humanity don’t regress when it comes to race-related issues and racism. I hope this crisis encourages people to dig deeper when reflecting on reducing racism or reflecting on any major topic that affects humanity really.

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Brian

Courageous to even attempt such a socially controversial crisis. Great work from the New York City Board of Health.

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Miley

I think any form of social abuse is cause for concern. Be it racial, LGBQ, women, children, health, elderly etc….. we need to look at the human kind as a whole in this area and do our best to preach equality and kindness to everyone.

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Marty

we true new yorkers just dont care about that! We never did! NYC always has been a melting pot. These progressives love to make POC think that they are unsafe and targeted daily when they are in one of the diverse cities in the world and basically the majority in this city. Go ahead pick on the mostly immigrants and first generation whites in nyc and blame them. they dont care! its the transplants from other states and suburbs that come here and think they are making a difference by renting luxury apartments kicking out the poor and mom and pop shops and then blaming racisms for the rise in crime, health crisis and poverty. Other countries from around the world got hit hard also who are not as diverse as the USA.

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Lee

Racism in nyc by who . Who is doing racist attack against white Hispanic Asian. Who is doing the hate crime.

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Dawn

This has more to do with culture than racism. I have seen ads on tv trying to appeal to the black community by putting black new yorkers saying that they got vaccinated through the guidance of their “black doctor.” As the phrase goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

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Fans of a fanboypark

As a follow up to this story, it’s important to mention that NYC council also declared racism as the sole reason why Giants and Jets are doing so poorly this season.

…these politicians are such a mental case…

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anon

U first sweetheart! There IS NO WHITE, BLACK, ASIAN, SPANISH, ARAB etc… Governments USE “” LABLES”” to CONTROL you!!!
The ONLY “Race” WE –ALL– belong to is the HUMAN RACE!!! Like someone who wears green is “racist” to someone who wears purple.
We are PEOPLE –NOT– A BOX of CRAYONS!! Get out of kindegarden already! And join the HUMAN RACE — GOD MADE US A BEAUTIFUL🌈 RAINBOW!🌈
Disclaimer: Sorry for the “RACIST” green comments for out non- human neighbors👽👿! I hear Pluto is nice this time of year!😇

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David

One reason for high transmission rates in black community is the disproportionate number of guys from that community who refuse to mask up. Just go on a subway and see for yourself.

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43rd & 43rd

Tbh, the main demographic that refuses to mask up is cops. Just go on a subway and see for yourself.

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