Allegheny County council votes to declare racism a public health crisis

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa — Allegheny County council members say racism is a crisis and something needs to be done, and now is the time to act.

Councilwoman Olivia Bennett said she wanted to do something after watching how COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting African Americans across the country.

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"COVID did kind of ignite and really push (us). We really need to do this, and now we don't have the luxury of time anymore because our people are dying and being impacted at much greater rates,” Bennett said.

Bennett brought this motion up for a vote Tuesday. In essence, it makes racism a public health crisis in Allegheny County.

She told Channel 11 a similar motion already passed at the city level.

“It gives us our basis, our foundation, our grounding per say. And now we go back to the table and start doing the work,” said Bennett.

The report released by Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Commission found disparities for African Americans in education, mortality rate and health care.

“It's not an indictment. We're not trying to divide. We're not trying to say white people are bad. We're not trying to point the finger. What we're trying to do is diagnose an issue that is present in our region,” Bennett said.

Bennett told Channel 11 the county plans to work closely with the city of Pittsburgh to address what the study found.