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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Olmsted County is embarking on a study of race and racism as a public health issue.

Olmsted County Commissioners approved a resolution this week directing the Public Health Services Advisory Board and the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission to address race as a public health issue and bring recommendations to the County Board when the study is completed.

County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden noted that studies have found black residents of Olmsted County are five times more likely to contract COVID-19 when compared to white residents. The statistics show the risk of infection for Hispanic residences is four times higher than the risk for white residents.

“As of August 1, 2020, more than 80 state and local government agencies have passed resolutions that declare racial disparities and racism as a public health crisis,” stated Olmsted County Director of Public Health Services Graham Briggs. “I am pleased that Olmsted County is joining that group and stands ready to address this issue. I look forward to learning more from the joint study to determine how we can improve the public health of all Olmsted County residents.”

Anyone interested in being involved is advised that there are open positions available on the Human Rights Commission. More information is available through the Olmsted County website.

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