While so much of our attention is focused on COVID-19, it is clear that we cannot respond to this pandemic as though it is an isolated public health emergency, occurring in a vacuum and separate from any other community health concern.
The data regarding COVID are no different from so many other health outcomes; Black, Latinx and Indigenous people are more likely to experience serious health outcomes and premature death. There are widespread and pervasive racial disparities in health in our country and region. We must recognize these for what they are – the unjust and preventable results of systems of oppression. People of color are more likely to experience conditions in housing, food access, healthcare, employment, transportation, education and other social determinants of health that put them at risk for preventable disease and premature mortality. The biological impacts of living with chronic stress resulting from racism exacerbate that risk.
Like so many times before, events around the nation last week have highlighted both the interpersonal and structural racism experienced by Black people in our country. Community members rightly demand that institutions pay attention and address injustices. Ledge Light Health District hears the call to action. Together with the partnering agencies on the Health Improvement Collaborative and with the residents we serve, we have centered addressing racism as a public health concern.
Our vision statement of a healthy and thriving community, where everyone has the opportunity to make healthy choices and live a high quality of life are only words unless we are taking meaningful action. Today we are affirming our commitment to centering health equity and we ask our community partners and members to hold us accountable.
Black lives matter, and as your health department we will do our part to dismantle structural racism so that our vision of a healthy and thriving community can become reality. We are committed to looking inward at our organization’s policies and practices and expanding our efforts to assure our organization is focused on being anti-racist.
Before we close, it’s important for us to remind everyone that we are still experiencing community transmission of COVID-19. Ledge Light Health District supports the right to protest and we fully understand the urgency of the moment. We remind you to consider your risk for contracting COVID and to take the precautions that we are recommending across the board in order to protect yourself and others: try to maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and others; wear a cloth face covering when you are around others; wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth; and stay home if you are feeling ill.
Jennifer Muggeo, Deputy Director
Stephen Mansfield, Director
Ledge Light Health District