New York Governor Kathy Hochul Declares Racism A ‘Public Health Emergency’
Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, arrives to speak at a news conference in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept 30, 2021.
Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) declared racism a “public health emergency” in her state.

“For far too long, communities of color in New York have been held back by systemic racism and inequitable treatment,” Hochul said in a press release after signing multiple pieces of legislation. “I am proud to sign legislation that addresses this crisis head-on, addressing racism, expanding equity and improving access for all.”

Among the legislation was:

  • Legislation S.2987-A/A.5679 declares racism a public health crisis and establishes a working group to promote racial equity throughout the State of New York.
  • Legislation S.6639-A/A.6896-A requires the collection of certain demographic information by certain state agencies, boards, departments, and commissions in order to keep a more accurate and relevant public record of Asian-American populations in New York.
  • Legislation A.1451-A/A.6215 requires the New York State Office of Technology Services to advise all state agencies in the implementation of language translation technology. This will ensure agency websites are translatable into the most common non-English languages spoken by New Yorkers.
  • Legislation S.1451-A/A.191 requires a health equity assessment to be filed with an application for any project that will affect a hospital’s health care services.

Several lawmakers celebrated the new laws.

Framing racism as a public health issue compels organizations and governmental agencies to address the crisis in the systemic ways that other threats to public health have been addressed,” State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-NY) said. “For decades, racial inequalities have caused significant mental, physical, and financial hardships for people of color. These inequities have impacted how they live, the resources they have access to and more importantly their quality of healthcare.”

“Our state is meant to be a beacon of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but without the tools to protect our marginalized communities these words carry little truth behind them,” Assemblymember Karines Reyes (D-NY) added. “The Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act ensures that we collect accurate demographic data of perpetrators and victims to better protect the communities being targeted. Without data, the plight of many will remain invisible.”

In October, the Board of Health for New York City made a similar move — declaring racism a “public health crisis” and vowing to root out “structural racism.” The body’s resolution said that “there is a long history of structural racism impacting services and care across all institutions within our society” and pointed to “settler colonialism, indigenous genocide, and enslavement of Africans” as part of “the history of our nation.”

Beyond anti-racism initiatives, Hochul and her administration have been zealous to enact COVID-19 restrictions. In September, Hochul said that Christians who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 “aren’t listening to God.”

“Yes, I know you’re vaccinated, you’re the smart ones, but you know, there are people out there who aren’t listening to God and what God wants,” Hochul said at a Christian Cultural Center service. “You know, this, you know who they are.”

“I need you to be my apostles, I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other,” she continued. “We love each other. Jesus taught us to love one another. And how do you show that love, but to care about each other enough to say, please get vaccinated because I love you. I want you to live.”

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