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Sacramento County declares racism a public health crisis

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Sacramento County this week became the latest local government to declare racism a public health crisis.

(CNN)Sacramento County this week became the latest local government to declare racism a public health crisis.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that declared racism a public health crisis and outlined ways to promote racial equity within the county through policies, programs and further resources.

"Sacramento County is one of the nation's most diverse communities, and as such, all its citizens should have the opportunity to live their lives free from systemic racism," Board Chair Phil Serna, who brought forth the resolution, said in a statement.

"Research has demonstrated that racism adversely impacts the physical and mental health of people of color.

While the vote was unanimous, the meeting did generate some backlash after Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson referred to Asians as "yellow folks" while expressing support for the resolution.

"In my 30-year career in public health, I've never had an issue like this before," he said.

Treating racism as a public health issue isn't a new idea.

A handful of local governments declared it a crisis, and health professionals have identified racism as a public health issue for well over a decade.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors' decision comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to strike a uniquely heavy blow to people of color.

"What we're hoping will happen is that by thinking of this through a public health lens, it will help people recognize that racism actually hurts people -- it impacts their health in a negative way," Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told CNN in August.

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