During the pandemic, Americans discovered what it meant when their state or municipality declared a health emergency or crisis. Once such a declaration was made, then executive orders from governors, mayors, and other governmental authorities began to restrict and order the lives of those rulers’ subjects.
New York City has seen shutdowns as well as vaccine mandates implemented for city workers, police, and teachers. Average Gothamites are required to show proof of vaccination in order “to participate in our society,” including going to shows, eating in restaurants, or working out in gyms.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration justified their actions by claiming the COVID-19 health crisis permitted them to take action unilaterally.
Now the city has a new official health crisis to handle: racism. And with it comes the proposition of more mandates and restrictions to be imposed upon the masses.
On Monday, the New York City Board of Health declared racism to be a public health crisis, WCBS-TV reported.
The resolution passed by the board “requires that the [Health] Department 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.”
In a tweet about the resolution, the Health Department said the resolution will “tie specific actions” to the crisis declaration.
In a statement on the action, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi tied the racism health crisis to the COVID pandemic.
“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. But these inequities are not inevitable. Today is an historic day for the country’s oldest Board of Health to officially recognize this crisis and demand action.”
However, the board’s crisis declaration does not limit consideration of racism to only COVID-related matters. Instead, the actions the resolution demands are not limited in scope and, as WCBS reported, “calls on the city’s Department of Health to find ways to make change as necessary”:
The resolution recognizes the impact of racism on the health of New Yorkers and requests the Health Department perform a series of actions, including:
1. 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;
2. 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;
3. 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;
4. 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;
5. 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;
6. 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
7. 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 progress.
The resolution went into effect immediately.
Author : Chris Field