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DeWine Says Racism Is A Public Health Crisis

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) called racism a public health crisis while releasing a report from a task force created to look into how COVID-19 is hitting people of color disproportionately.

The minority health strike force identified dozens of issuesto address disparities when it comes to health issues for people of color, known as social determinants of health. 

With that report, DeWine is challenging all aspects of state government to fix disparities.

The governor says there are many causes for the lack of equity, including systemic racism. 

"We have an obligation to look at these racial disparities and say 'that's not right.' We have to do everything within our power to deal with this," says DeWine. 

He called for changes in many sectors including higher education, foster care, and environmental protection. 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes, who was on the strike force, says this report took too long to be released, saying it should've come with more urgency.

“Task forces to reopen businesses met and issued reports within days of their creation. Democrats called for that same sense of urgency when it came to the health and lives of Black Ohioans who have seen the worst effects of coronavirus since the outset of this pandemic," Sykes said in a written statement. "For thousands of Black workers and Black families, it’s too little, too late—the damage is done. The governor and his team moved quickly to address some issues but not the ones that dealt with Black and Brown lives.”

DeWine says he is creating the Governor's Equity Advisory Board to keep this conversation going and create a permanent group that will address the issue of racial disparity.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.