Olmsted County Commission receives report on racism and public health

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KROC-AM News) — The Olmsted County Commission will submit an in-depth report on racism as a public health problem next week.

Last year, commissioners directed the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission and the Olmsted County Public Health Services Advisory Committee to conduct a joint study of the issue after the county board approved a resolution that recognized “the same issues as race and racism.” Relevant equity and disparity as a public health issue.”

This exhaustive report lists many examples of the health impacts caused by race-based inequalities across the country and the Rochester area. People of color had significantly higher rates of all Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths compared with 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 that the poverty rate for black residents in Olmsted County is nearly 40 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for whites, which is in line with the unemployment rate for blacks that is six times higher than for whites. It also lists homeownership barriers faced by people of color, as well as barriers to obtaining a lease to live in higher-quality rental housing.


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The final report contains more than 40 recommendations in nine focus areas, mainly related 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 council and the county’s various advisory committees and committees receive anti-racism training, increasing the diversity of these committees and committee members, and working to ensure that people with criminal records have access to housing options.

The county commission is expected to accept the report at its meeting on Tuesday.

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