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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)  -  The Olmsted County Board will be presented next week with an in-depth report on racism as a public health issue.

The commissioners last year directed the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission and Olmsted County Public Health Services Advisory Board to conduct a joint study of the issue after the county board approved a resolution that recognize the "in equities and disparities associated with race and racism as a public health issue."

The expansive report lists many examples of health impacts resulting from race-based inequities both nationally and in the Rochester area. They include significantly higher hospitalization and death rates from all Covid-19 for people of color when compared to white, non-Hispanic, community members.

Source: CDC, COVID-NET, National Center For Health Statistics
Source: CDC, COVID-NET, National Center For Health Statistics

The report also highlights the nearly 40% poverty rate for black residents of Olmsted County compared to the 5.7% poverty rate among whites, which aligns with unemployment rates that are six times higher for black individuals than white people. It also lists roadblocks to homeownership faced by people of color along with barriers to obtaining leases to live in higher-quality rental housing.

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The final report contains more than 40 recommendations in nine focus areas, mainly pertaining to the public sector. They include criminal justice, customer service, data collection and use, organizational culture, housing and homelessness, financial health, mental health, and substance use. The recommendations include having every member of the County Board and the county's various advisory committees and commissions undergo anti-racist training, increasing the diversity of the members of those committees and commissions, and working to ensure that people with criminal records have access to housing options.

The County Board is expected to accept the report at its meeting on Tuesday.


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