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Mayor Mendenhall, SLC Council Declare Racism A Public Health Crisis

Salt Lake City (Chopper 5, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has signed a joint resolution with the Salt Lake City Council, declaring racism a public health crisis.

It was adopted during the Council’s meeting Tuesday.

According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, the document “outlines the impacts of structural and interpersonal racism, which are proven to have detrimental impacts on the mental and physical health of communities of color.”

“This is an important declaration for us to make as a City. Not only are we publicly acknowledging the existence of a grave inequity that many in our community have known and experienced for so long, we are also committing ourselves to the creation of policies and ordinances that are anti-racist,” Mayor Mendenhall said.

“There is no doubt of the crisis. Our society is burdened with bigotry and all the hatred that comes with it,” said Council Chair Amy Fowler. “Indeed, it is a moral imperative to combat racism, discrimination, and inequities in all their forms.”

The idea for the resolution came from a group of community leaders “who are in or working toward health-related careers,” the release said.

Officials said the proposal was then reviewed and approved by the City’s Human Rights Coalition as well as the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing.

“Racism directly impacts access to numerous everyday resources, including education, housing, employment, and healthcare. The cascading effects are known to result in negative outcomes for physical and mental health,” read the release.

The Mayor’s Office wrote that instances of racism affecting public health and Salt Lake City’s communities of color have been well documented during the pandemic.

Data showed Latino communities accounted for approximately 40% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, while Utah’s American Indian and Alaskan Native communities had a fatality rate roughly three times higher than the state average.

“The resolution commits that as the City continues its work going forward, it will continue to be critical about the policies and ordinances created to ensure they do not add to the compounding of inequities, and that they work to undo the damage done over many years,” concluded the release.

This comes after Utah hospitals declared systematic racial disparity a public health crisis back in mid-January.

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