Amidst a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting Black lives and as nationwide uprisings continue - cities, counties, and states across the U.S. are voting to declare racism a public health crisis.
But racism has always been a public health issue, and there are more than 100 studies linking racism to life-threatening health outcomes. We cannot promote health and prevent disease without acknowledging these issues and specifically, the impact they have on access to healthcare and immunizations.
This special edition of the Booster Bulletin is a curated list of articles, policy briefs, upcoming trainings and more to help us all listen, learn, speak out, and take action to fight the inequities and disparities that exist across Nevada and our nation.
Working together, we can stand up for change, be part of the solution, and make a lasting difference.
"State and Local Efforts to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis - Issue Brief" The Network for Public Health Law (June 16, 2020)
The past two weeks have seen a number of jurisdictions call for and issue resolutions (including formal resolutions, declarations, and executive orders) to address racism as a public health crisis. Twenty-four resolutions introduced or adopted since 2019 are included in this assessment. The language of these resolutions falls into six broad categories:
- A clear declaration that racism is a public health crisis or emergency,
- Measures pertaining to organizational policy or practice,
- Emphasis on partnerships and collaboration,
- Accountability measures,
- Focus on a specific issue, or,
- A call to action to other local, state, and national leaders.
"Racism Is a Public Health Crisis, say Cities and Counties" The PEW Charitable Trusts Stateline (June 15, 2020)
Being black is bad for your health. And pervasive racism is the cause. That’s the conclusion of multiple public health studies over more than three decades. “We do know that health inequities at their very core are due to racism,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “There’s no doubt about that.”
‘Long Overdue’: Lawmakers Declare Racism a Public Health Emergency The Guardian (June 12, 2020)
Long before a white police officer killed George Floyd and sparked nationwide outrage, long before Covid-19 began killing Black people at twice the rate of their white counterparts, doctors and health experts were raising alarms that systematic racism is itself a pervasive, deadly pandemic – one that kills both instantaneously and insidiously, burdens Black and Brown Americans with generational trauma, contributes to higher rates of infant mortality and heart disease, and even speeds up the ageing process.
"Declare Racism Public Health Emergency, AAFP Tells White House" AAFP News (June 12, 2020)
The administration must respond to systemic racism and its threat to public health, the Academy told a top White House official this week, a call to action that has taken on added urgency as emerging data point to the COVID-19 pandemic's disproportionately severe impact on communities of color.
"Systemic Racism Is a Public Health Crisis too" Self Magazine (June 5, 2020)
A letter from the editor in chief of SELF magazine. But another thing I know as a health editor is that systemic racism is also a public health crisis. And that Black Lives Matter is a matter of public health, and of life and death.
"Police Brutality is our Lane too, Doctors say" STAT News (June 5, 2020)
Physicians rightly advocate for reform of gun laws to prevent unnecessary loss of life. The victimization of Black people by credentialed law enforcement or racist vigilantes also constitutes unnecessary loss of life, and these victims also deserve our advocacy. If gun violence is our lane, police brutality must be our lane too.
“Racism is Undeniably a Public Health Issue” Popular Science (June 4, 2020)
Identifying racism in this view could lead to positive change. Over the past couple weeks, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has faded into the background of national discourse as thousands across the country have taken to the streets to protest other urgent public health concerns: police violence and anti-Black racism itself. In the midst of widespread police violence and the arrest of more than 9000 protestors nationwide, local and state governments are pushing to recognize racism itself as a public health issue.
“Racism is a Public Health Issue: What George Floyd’s Death can Teach Funders” The Colorado Health Foundation (June 1, 2020)
When racially-motivated ideals lead to overt misuse of power and senseless death, we have conversations at the Foundation about how the event connects to our mission. How does the death of a man at the hands of police in Minneapolis have anything to do with bringing health in reach for all Coloradans? The answer? It has everything to do with our work.
"‘People can’t ignore it anymore’: Across the country, minorities hit hardest by pandemic" Politico (July 8, 2020)
No matter where the virus strikes, communities of color bear the brunt. From New York and California to Texas and Arizona — in urban and rural areas alike — people of color are suffering at greater rates, according to county data, state analyses provided to POLITICO by public health researchers, and interviews with more than a dozen experts.
"The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus" The New York Times (July 5, 2020)
Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.
"Wary, Hopeful Medical Professionals Starting Careers Amid Pandemic" Nevada Public Radio KNPR (June 16, 2020)
Dr. Curry-Winchell recently organized a White Coats for Black Lives in Reno. She and many in the medical profession knelt in solidarity with protesters around the country. “My goal was to bring several medical professionals together to shine a light on the injustice that happened with Mr. Floyd as well as talk about the several disparities we have when it comes to health care with African Americans and all minorities,” she said.
"Why Racism, Not Race, Is a Risk Factor for Dying of COVID-19" Scientific American (June 12, 2020)
Public health specialist and physician Camara Phyllis Jones talks about ways that jobs, communities and health care leave Black Americans more exposed and less protected.
"Policies Must Address COVID-19 Impact on Minoritized Communities" American Medical Association (June 10, 2020)
The need for the nation to move forward on improving health equity is demonstrated by the dramatically disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on racial and ethnic minoritized communities, the AMA told Congress. “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed starkly the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color,” the AMA told the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. “The causes of the disproportionate impact are rooted in this country’s historical and structural racism and the social, economic, and health inequities that have resulted, and continue to result in, adverse health outcomes.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has only made those disparities — and the structural discrimination they are rooted in — all the more apparent. Black Americans have been dying at about 2.4 times the rate of white Americans. As medical anthropologist Clarence Gravlee put it in Scientific American: “If Black people were dying at the same rate as white Americans, at least 13,000 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and other loved ones would still be alive.”
"Racism, not Genetics, Explains why Black Americans are Dying of COVID-19" Scientific American (June 7, 2020)
Some scientists and politicians have invoked baseless ideas about unknown genes, ignoring systemic inequality and oppression. There is still plenty we don’t know about COVID-19, but one fact is inescapable: African Americans are disproportionately represented among the dead. Although the numbers are incomplete, the non-profit APM Research Lab estimates that, as of May 27, the overall death rate from COVID-19 is 2.4 times greater for African Americans than it is for white people.
“‘A Pandemic Within A Pandemic’: Coronavirus Lays Bare Long-Standing Racial Disparities” Kaiser Health News (June 5, 2020)
Black Americans have disproportionately suffered from the coronavirus due to long-standing racial disparities in everything from health care to wealth accumulation. Experts examine the ways racism plays a role in America's institutions, including, but not limited to, police departments.
"‘Which Death do They Choose?’: Many Black Men Fear Wearing a Mask More than the Coronavirus" STAT News (June 3, 2020)
When the CDC issued guidelines in early March asking people to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the question for many Black men was not where to get a mask or which kind. It was: How do I cover my face and not get shot?
Throughout American history, Black people have endured a medical system that has been simultaneously exploitative and dismissive. And the damaging implicit and explicit biases present in our medical system do not suddenly vanish because we are in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, the pandemic has made them impossible to ignore.
"COVID-19 Is Crushing Black Communities. Some States are Paying Attention." The PEW Charitable Trusts Stateline (May 27, 2020)
It is too early to tell whether state and local initiatives will temper the appalling toll COVID-19 is extracting from black communities. But state officials’ focus on the issue in both red and blue states signals an awareness that immediate action is required to make a difference.
“A No-Win Situation’ — Expert Weighs in on COVID-19 Racial Disparities” Medical News Today (May 22, 2020)
The current pandemic is exposing — and exacerbating — already existing social inequalities. In this interview, Medical News Today spoke to Tiffany Green, assistant professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about COVID-19 and race-related health disparities.
"Why African American Communities are Being Hit Hard by COVID-19" American Medical Association (May 13, 2020)
It will take months, if not years, to capture and understand just how big of an impact COVID-19 is having on the United States, but AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, recently said that one aspect is evident right now. “What is already clear is this pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on African Americans,” Dr. Harris said. Dr. Harris made this comment during her opening statement for a virtual town hall hosted by the AMA and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Town hall recording link in article.
“Addressing Racial Disparities in COVID-19” Thurgood Marshall Institute, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (May 2020)
While the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the pre-existing fractures and inequalities in our society, it has also revealed the inherent interdependency of our lives. We can see now more than ever that the health and safety of our society is inextricably connected to the health and well-being of us all. By facing the structural racial inequities revealed in this pandemic, we can develop and implement creative solutions that will make us a better, healthier, and more just society now and in the future.
“Advancing Racial Equity Webinar Series” American Public Health Association
APHA is hosting this webinar series to give an in-depth look at racism as a driving force of the social determinants of health and equity. The series will explore efforts to address systems, policies and practices designed to limit and shape opportunities for people of color. Our presenters will highlight collective and individual actions we can take to advance racial equity and justice. Webinar # 1 | Racism: The Ultimate Underlying Condition
“Disparities in Health and Health Care: Five Key Questions and Answers” Kaiser Family Foundation (Mar 04, 2020)
Health and health care disparities refer to differences in health and health care between groups that are closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Disparities occur across many dimensions, including race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, location, gender, disability status, and sexual orientation.
Health Equity Resources American Medical Association (Website)
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMA is carefully compiling critical health equity resources from across the web to shine a light on the structural issues that contribute to and could exacerbate already existing inequities.
Talking About Race National Museum of African American History and Culture (Website)
Since the opening of the museum, the number one question people ask us is how to talk about race. The NMAAHC education department’s mission has made deliberate strides toward being a “brave space” to discuss race, equity, and inclusion. We explore how these topics relate in both a historical and cultural context. Talking about race, although hard, is necessary. We are here to provide tools and guidance to empower your journey and inspire conversation.
Watch the Entire CNN/Sesame Street Racism Town Hall CNN (June 6, 2020)
CNN's Van Jones and Erica Hill partner with "Sesame Street" for Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, a town hall for kids and families.
Tara Haelle spoke to multiple epidemiologists and public health experts, both white and non-white, to better understand how the issues of racism and Covid are entwined, the importance of Black Lives Matter during the pandemic, and why so many public health proponents support the protests despite the potential risks.
"Don't Blame Black Lives Matter Protests for the Spike in Coronavirus Cases across the US" Business Insider (June 17, 2020)
Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, are on the rise in nearly half of US states — an indication that the nation is nowhere near finished with its first wave of this pandemic. This data is emerging following three weeks of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, but don't be fooled into thinking that it's necessarily a related trend. Instead, much of the current uptick appears to spring from an American business reopening that's being rushed along too quickly, with deadly consequences.
"A Reckoning for Health Care Professionals: Should they be Activists, too?" STAT News (June 16, 2020)
Amid the dual crises of a global pandemic and a reckoning with systemic racial injustice, health workers and health educators are grappling with a momentous question that hovers between personal and professional: how much of an activist should a health care worker be? Doctors, epidemiologists, and nurses are increasingly abandoning their characteristic reticence in favor of direct advocacy.
"When to Get Tested for Coronavirus if You’ve Been Protesting" Self Magazine (June 12, 2020)
If you’re protesting, whether it’s once or several times, it’s important to understand how COVID-19 testing works, when you should be seeking out tests, and what you can do to minimize your risk in a protest environment. Here’s what you need to know to best protect yourself, anyone you might interact with after you protest, and the activists fighting for justice alongside you.
When massive protests broke out across the country in response to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and numerous black Americans before them, Dr. Rhea Boyd saw the demonstrations not just as a necessary risk during a pandemic. The California-based pediatrician considered them lifesaving.
"A Fuse has Been Lit': Dr Jerome Adams on Racism and Civil Unrest" Medscape (June 5, 2020)
Video and transcript of Coronavirus in Context with Dr John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD and Dr Jerome Adams, the United States Surgeon General. A potential unintended consequence of the recent civil unrest is spread of COVID-19 in communities that are already more vulnerable to this virus. Protesters should consider getting tested for COVID-19.
"How to Protest (safely) in Las Vegas During a Pandemic" Las Vegas Sun (June 5, 2020)
Experts weigh in on how to protect yourself from risk of infection, injury and your constitutional rights.
“Public Health Experts Share Open Letter Defending Anti-Racism Protests During the Pandemic” Upworthy (June 4, 2020)
More than 1200 public health experts, infectious disease professionals, and community stakeholders have signed onto an open letter explaining why they support anti-racism protests happening across the country despite the potential risk of coronavirus spread. According to Slate, the letter, written by infectious disease experts at University of Washington with input from other colleagues, comes after an avalanche of media requests asking them to comment on the COVID-19 risks associated with public gatherings.
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