Data Update
In 2014, PHIWM released the first Health Equity report under the leadership of our founding Executive Director, Dr. Frank Robinson. We called out the growing understanding that basic human needs (food, housing, education, employment) are the key determinants of health outcomes. Many of the health inequities experienced by communities of color, low-income people, and other vulnerable populations are due to created barriers to basic human needs. These barriers are often rooted in a history of discrimination at the individual, institutional, and government levels. Therefore, we are not surprised about the data reports, shared by the MA Dept of Public Health showing who is more at risk and being impacted more by COVID- 19. Painful, but obvious, those burdened already continue to be burdened. 

For the past months we have watched residents, institutions and government bodies calling out racism as a public health crisis and demanding policy changes to systems such as housing, economic development and criminal justice. Please review the data below and take action.
COVID-19’s Impact on Communities of Color
On June 19th, MA Department of Public Health's (DPH) COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory group released new data that highlights disparities in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for different races and ethnicities. According to their analysis , Black and Hispanic/Latinx residents have more than three times a higher positive COVID-19 case rate than White residents. Similarly, Black residents represent 7% of the MA population but account for 14% of COVID-19 cases. Hispanics/Latinx residents represent 12% of the population, but more than twice that proportion of cases (29%).
Graph from Health Equity Advisory Groups Recommendations PowerPoint 6-19-2020, accessed 6/23/2020 from https://www.mass.gov/doc/health-equity-advisory-group-recommendations/download , Data as of 6/17/2020
Hospitalization data also reveal that Black and Hispanic/Latinx populations bear a greater burden of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The rate of hospitalizations for Black residents and Hispanic/Latinx residents is 2.4 times and 1.6 times higher (respectively) than for White residents. 
Graph from Health Equity Advisory Groups Recommendations PowerPoint 6-19-2020, accessed 6/23/2020 from https://www.mass.gov/doc/health-equity-advisory-group-recommendations/download
Data as of 6/17/2020
Inequities can also be seen in COVID-19 death data. The age-adjusted death rate is highest among Black residents, followed by Hispanic/Latinx residents. Age-adjusted rates are helpful for comparisons between different race/ethnic groups given differences in the age distribution of these populations.
Graph from Health Equity Advisory Groups Recommendations PowerPoint 6-19-2020, accessed 6/23/2020 from https://www.mass.gov/doc/health-equity-advisory-group-recommendations/download ; Data as of 6/17/2020, Note: Population denominators for rate calculations provided by UMass Donahue Inst. based on Strate S, et al. Small Area Population Estimates for 2011 through 2020, published March 2020 (original report published Oct 2016). Rates are per 100,000 population. Age-adjusted to the 2000 US standard population. See weights used at:  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statnt/statnt20.pdf
Although there are limitations with the data (race/ethnicity is missing or unknown in 35% of cases, 16% of hospitalizations, 2% of deaths as of June 22, 2020 ), the fact that we can see inequities in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths highlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx communities.
 
The COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group is convened by Public Health Commissioner Bharel to generate recommendations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with a health equity lens. The press release lists several key recommendations, including: continuing to dis-aggregate COVID-19 data across populations and sectors; increasing equitable distribution of PPE for essential workers and residents in professions at most risk; and implementing policies that increase housing stability for populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. See a full list of recommendations from the Health Equity Advisory Group .
 
Partners across the state and locally are working on efforts to address health and racial inequities, the PHIWM included. Our mission at the PHIWM is to create measurably healthier communities, and our work is centered on health equity . We will continue to amplify advocacy opportunities; use data, research and evaluation to track and highlight inequities; and build partnerships and coalitions to identify and address those structures and policies that allow for inequities.
Take Action
Protect Renters and Homeowners
An Act to Guarantee Stable Housing During the COVID-19 Epidemic , is a comprehensive follow-up to the Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures, which is set to expire in August. Organizations & elected officials can add their name to the sign-on letter and join a growing list of groups supporting the bill. Individuals are encouraged to sign the Housing Guarantee petition .
Racism is a Public Health Crisis
As noted in last week’s newsletter, several cities and towns in Massachusetts have declared racism a public health crisis. Contact your Mayor or town government today and ask them to declare racism a public health crisis and identify steps they will take to address it. 

Here are links to some of the declarations/orders:
Positive Steps for Justice
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in employment, also applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This long fought victory, though well overdue, comes at a fitting time during Pride Month. Pride Month is celebrated every June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which is considered a critical point in the fight for LGBTQ rights in the US.

Also last week, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is a program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. For some “dreamers”, the US is the only country they know. While the struggle to protect DACA is not over, we are pleased that Trump’s efforts to dismantle the program were stymied. 
Resources
COVID-19 Testing
MDPH launched new a website about testing GetTestedMA.

Who should get tested? 
You should get a test if:
  • You develop any symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild
  • If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Where can I get tested?
Check out the state’s interactive testing map for locations near you.

Learn more on the state’s COVID-19 testing page.
Crisis Management Resources
Crisis Management programs are open and available during COVID-19. Check for local resources on 413Cares.org.
Events
Webinar COVID-19: Disproportionate Impact on Black Communities, June 25th
The   COVID-19: Disproportionate Impact on Black Communities  webinar is scheduled for June 25 th , 2020 at 3:00pm. This free webinar will explore how COVID-19 is exposing existing disparities by Black communities, the historical context, institutional and systemic racism, and how communities can begin to address these disparities now and during recovery with policy, systems, and environmental change.

Featured guests include Dr. Camara Jones, MD, PhD; Ms. Cassandra Welchlin; and Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins. This webinar is part of County Health Rankings & Roadmaps' special topic series, Health Equity and Social Solidarity in the Time of Pandemic: Strategies for COVID-19 Response and Recovery.
Good Vibes Peace Drive, June 27th 
Spread the Peace, Stop the Violence
The Good Vibes Program is planning its fourth Peace Drive in response to the lives that have been tragically lost due to gun violence recently in our city.
 
Saturday, June 27, 2020, 10:00 AM
Meet at the South End Community Center 99 Marble Street, Springfield, MA, and end in front of Springfield City Hall. View Map
 
For more information please contact Ray Planas , Good Vibes Program Coordinator.   
Anti-Racism Workshops
NCCJ is offering a Anti-Racism workshop that will look at bias, discrimination, oppression and privilege in the United States. Given the rise of racist acts during the pandemic, as well as the most recent horrific racist incidents, examining these issues takes on an even great sense of urgency.

W orkshops will be offered monthly starting in July through November. Visit NCCJ.org/AntiRacism to register and learn more