Racism declared public health crisis in Manatee County, American Public Health Association says

By The Numbers

June 6 Black Lives Matter protest in Tampa, Fla. (Melanie Michael/WFLA photo)

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Race has been at the center of many important conversations in 2020, from the coronavirus pandemic to civil unrest across the country. Now, two Tampa Bay area counties have joined nearly 150 other locations around the country in continuing those conversations.

The American Public Health Association has listed racism as a public health issue in 145 cities and counties across 27 states – up from just seven in 2019. Among those were Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

Hillsborough County commissioners declared racism a public health crisis on Sept. 16, laying out a plan to eliminate racism in the community. The plan included equality training for county leadership and supporting policies that prioritize the health of all people, especially people of color.

Manatee County took similar action on Nov 10. with its own declaration of racism as a public health crisis. The declaration outlined the fact that Black residents make up 15.5 percent of the population, but make up 19.4 percent of the Floridians who have died of the coronavirus. The disparity is more acute for younger residents.

Black residents make up 18 percent of Florida’s population from ages 25 to 44 and represent 44 percent of deaths in this age range.

“According to the Department of Health, Black residents of this state are more likely to die of COVID-19,” Commissioner Reggie Bellamy said. “Being healthy is about more than genetics. Our health depends on the conditions of our daily life where we live, work, and play; and these conditions are not the same for everyone in Manatee County.”

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