The massive spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, pandemic, has revealed economic and racial inequities that the United States has been dealing with for decades; from the disproportionate rate of black people contracting the virus to the economic hardships many of the country’s poorest have been left to face alone.
It is because of these developments that one city in the state of Pennsylvania is leading the charge by declaring another public health crisis that arose as a result of the coronavirus—racism.
According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Allegheny County has passed a motion of 12-3 to label racism a public health crisis this week. The document was initially drafted following a 2019 report that revealed that Pittsburgh has the worst quality of life for its black residents than in any other city of its size within the country.
In Pittsburgh, the rate of infant mortality among black children is 94% higher than the other cities in the study. Research found that black men within the city also face higher rates of cancer diagnoses and cardiovascular disease.
“This is not just a black issue; this is a humanity issue as we heard in the many statements that came before [the meeting],” said Councilwoman Olivia Bennett who is also the lead sponsor of the bill. However, some are not on board with the new motion such as Republican Sam DeMarco.
“I do have a problem with the language. It seems that they’re calling out whites as a collective and claiming that whites are responsible for this … racial classification scheme and things like that,” he explained. “And I’m sorry, that language, I just can’t support it. To the folks on the right, we believe that white privilege is something that’s just something created by the left to try to create division.”