CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, the Cuyahoga County Council will vote on a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis in the county.
The resolution addresses structural/systemic racism and the disparities between Black and white people in healthcare, the criminal justice system, healthy food, safe and affordable housing, well-paying jobs and business ownership opportunities, quality transportation, educational opportunities, and safe places to be active.
“Black people have long faced numerous challenges in healthcare and in an endless number of other public health areas, including higher rates of disease, less access to healthcare, shorter life spans, and poorer health conditions,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “Cuyahoga County has once again been reminded how Black people are disproportionately affected by health crises, most recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. Declaring racism as a public health crisis expresses our intent to address the impact of racism on public health throughout the County.”
In Cuyahoga County, Black people represent 30.5% of the population but represent 40% of the county’s COVID-19 diagnoses, 45% of all the hospital admissions, and 45% of all the Intensive Care Units admissions related to the virus.
“Declaring racism as a public health crisis is good first step towards making transformative legislation. The ultimate goal is doing the hard work and exercising the political will to change the policies and procedures that have been used to oppress Black people for centuries,” said Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown who, along with Councilpersons Yvonne Conwell, Pernel Jones, Jr., Cheryl Stephens, Dan Brady, Dale Miller, Sunny Simon, Michael Gallagher, Scott Tuma and County Executive Armond Budish, co-authored the legislation.