DENVER — At the urging of Department of Public Health and Environment employees, Colorado will join other state and local governments in declaring racism a public health crisis.
The pending declaration addresses diversity inside the department as well as the coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on people of color, The Denver Post reported Friday. It comes amid the ongoing national reckoning over race following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Department employees had sought the declaration since June, the Post reported. Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said the state will join other state and local governments, including Jefferson County, in declaring racism a health crisis.
Black and Latino residents comprise nearly 5% and 36%, respectively, of COVID-19 cases in Colorado, and nearly 7% and 22%, respectively, of virus-related deaths. Blacks comprise just nearly 4% of the state’s population; Latinos, 22%, the health department says.
The department’s roughly 1,554 employees include 64 Black and 149 Latino employees.
Our articles are free to read, but not free to report
Support local journalism around the state.
Become a member of The Colorado Sun today!
The latest from The Sun
- Parents of Elijah McClain sue Aurora police over his death
- I-70 closed through Glenwood Canyon because of large wildfire, reopening unclear
- Colorado students may shuffle school districts during coronavirus, leaving a financial mess in their wake
- Who should represent Colorado? The answers take shape this week as census, redistricting hit key phases
- Colorado’s struggle to improve school vaccination rates shows the challenges ahead for a coronavirus vaccine