Racism has been declared a public health crisis in Franklin County.
The county Board of Health is joining other communities nationwide in making the declaration, claiming the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the health divide between black and white Ohioans. Multiple peer-reviewed studies show African Americans have lower life expectancy rates, high infant mortaility rates, higher rates of preventable disease and are more likely to die young from heart disease or stroke. Health Commissioner Joe Mazola says the county will take several steps to ensure equal opportunities for all residents. “The question we now have to face is what are those underlying root causes,” Mazzola said. “They’re the social determinants of health but what’s causing those, and that really is the institutional, structural racism that’s been building for decades and decades and decades.”