Jefferson County public health officials on Tuesday declared systemic racism a public health crisis and passed a resolution that directs the local health agency to take steps to address health inequities, according to a news release.
The resolution, which was passed by the Jefferson County Board of Health and Jefferson County Public Health, follows recent demonstrations that have taken place across Colorado and the U.S. calling for racial justice and police use of force reforms.
The declaration also comes as the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted racial inequalities with people of color becoming sick at a disproportionately high rate. Previously, Denver public health officials announced they would offer free testing for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, at new locations to reach those most affected by the outbreak.
“The convergence of recent events — the novel coronavirus which has disproportionately affected people of color and further racial injustices — have catalyzed a need for action,” said Greg Deranleau, president of the Jefferson County Board of Health, in a statement. “We know that this work is too crucial to delay — injustice has already cost too many lives.”
Under the resolution, the public health agency says it will assess internal policies to make sure there is racial equity; develop policies to address systemic racism; engage with people of color to improve the conditions of where they live and work; and improve data collection to develop a justice-informed community health needs assessment and improvement plan, according to the news release.
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