Salt Lake City mayor, city council sign joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis

Salt Lake City mayor, city council sign joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis
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Salt Lake City’s mayor and city council adopted a joint resolution on Tuesday declaring racism a public health crisis and saying that the city is taking steps to “confront the systems that have resulted in generational injustice and health inequities.”

In the joint resolution, the council and mayor stated that racism harmfully impacts the physical and mental health of communities of color, creating both preventable and measurable health disparities. 

“We are publicly acknowledging the existence of a grave inequity many in our community have long experienced, and are committing ourselves to creating policies and ordinances that are anti-racist,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall (D) said in a tweet on Tuesday.

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Citing the coronavirus as an example, Salt Lake City officials say the pandemic “has illustrated how pre-existing structural inequities created heavier burdens of disease, death, and social consequences onto communities of color in Utah.” 

Citing data from Utah’s Department of Health, the joint resolution said that though Latinos accounted for roughly 14 percent of the state’s population, they made up 40 percent of its COVID-19 cases.

The data also pointed to stark differences in the health of communities of color and white communities when it came to odds of infection, case fatality rates, cancer screenings, birth weights and infant mortality rate.

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The city said that it was creating a “equity plan” for the city “with a goal to methodically review all City practices and policies and confront the systems that have resulted in generational injustice and health inequities.”

“We commit to look internally, externally, and encourage all who reside, work, and own businesses in our city to commit to the work necessary to dismantle racist legacies and equitably work to repair our communities,” the joint statement said.

The joint resolution follows remarks that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyUS vaccinations tick up as delta variant spreads Public health expert: 'Biden absolutely declared a victory too soon' Delta variant raises fears of worsening mutations MORE made in April saying that racism was "serious public health threat.”