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Government & Politics

'Now Is the Time' Sherrod Brown Says for National Declaration on Public Health Impact of Racism

A photo of a protester
Sen. Sherrod Brown says protesters have demonstrated there is overwhelming public support to address the issues caused by racism.

With federal legislation being proposed to address police reform, one of Ohio’s U.S. Senators says there should also be legislation at the federal level addressing racism as a public health crisis.   

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) expects to introduce a bill "in the coming days" that would declare racism a public health emergency. He says every important index—from infant mortality to life expectancy—shows African Americans lag behind. He says a national declaration would help address these issues on many levels—from early childhood intervention to healthcare access and environmental issues. 

“I think the pandemic was the great revealer to really show those disparities more starkly to the public, and now’s the time, when the public is overwhelmingly supportive of these efforts, to do these things.”

Brown says he’s crafted the legislation with input from a number of groups. He says he’s currently lining up co-sponsors. 

His office says the senator's resolution will "acknowledge that health care disparities have existed in America for more than 400 years, recognize how those disparities are being magnified and exacerbated today during the Coronavirus pandemic and acknowledge systemic barriers that people of color, especially African Americans, continue to face when seeking care, including implicit biases and overall access to the social determinants of health."