Similar to many parts of the United States, CoVid19 is having a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino families in Minnesota. The percentage of positive cases for these populations is larger than the percentage population of these groups in the state. Minnesota is 6% Black and 5% Latino, yet has 17% and 14% of the confirmed CoVid19. In addition, only 19% of Long Term Healthcare workers in Minnesota are Black, yet they make up 43% of the positive confirmed cases of this group. Many are immigrants. Racial disparities in health outcomes and CoVid19 atealso exposing the root cause of these outcomes. Racial inequities in employment, education, housing, food security and wealth building are being further exacerbated by the impact of CoVid19.
Now that we know what we suspected (disproportionate impact of CoVid19 on communities of color and Native Americans), what are we going to do about it? Here are a few questions we should ask as we address racial inequities after the impact of CoVid19.
- Are we going to have special re-opening processes for businesses serving communities of color and Native American communities in order to protect their health because of the grave impact the virus is causing in these communities?
- Are we going to pay for and distribute more free masks and hand sanitizer to communities of color and Native American communities? Are we going to employ seamstresses of color and Native Americans to produce these masks in order to stimulate the economy in these communities.
- Are we going to pass legislation that not only invest more money in places to house death caused by CoVid19, but also more money to END RACIAL HEALTH DISPARITIES?
- Are we going to invest in more affordable housing for multiple family members so when we have shelter in place orders, the place is not filled with more than 8-10 people. Those number of family members in a household and limited housing makes physical distancing nearly impossible. Are we going to invest in reducing overcrowded homeless shelters that disproportionately impact communities of color and Native Americans?
- Are we going to reimagine and reinvest in distance learning so that when we ask young people to participate in their education from home, access barriers to technology and racially inequitable education solutions won’t get in the way?
- Are we going to invest in the social determinants of health and also AUTHENTICALLY address disproportionate unemployment rates for communities of color and Native Americans that are the result of the pandemic? Are we going to RECRUIT AND RETAIN FOR DIVERSITY in hiring for the public and private sector? Are we going to measure and report our successes or failures in this area?
- Are we going to target testing for CoVid19 in communities of color and Native American communities? When we get more tests are we going to focus on communities and Native American communities where people are disproportionately impacted? Are we going to make sure the testing and follow up are done in a culturally proficient and equitable manner and in partnership with community health clinics? Are we going to report disaggregated racial testing results?
- Are we going to invest in small businesses of color and Native American businesses to make sure that they return and are successful after the financial impact of COVID19? Are we going to AUTHENTICALLY establish supplier diversity strategies in the public and private sector in order to consistently and continually purchase from these businesses?
- Are we going to invest in language interpreters for patients and families and culturally proficient and religiously diverse ministers to meet the needs of our immigrant patients and families?
- Are we going to invest in LGBTQ counselors, teachers and workers who can help us meet the needs of LGBTQ students, patients and families? Working from home for students that do not have a safe home or students who are not accepted or received for who they are at home is not acceptable.
These are a few of the equity questions and #equityactions that need to be taken. We know the data and we know the story. We now need to do the work and develop and implement the solutions.