COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement following Governor Mike DeWine’s creation of a new dashboard for parents and caregivers that provides information about cases, hospitalizations and deaths among Ohio’s children. DeWine today referred to the statistic that Black children make up 45% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations but only 18% of the population as “troubling.”
“What is troubling to me is that the governor created a Minority Health Strike Force and it has yet to strike nearly five months after is creation. Instead, COVID-19 ravages our Black communities and schools and our Black babies are disproportionately infected, hospitalized and dying while his Strike Force still does nothing. But at least he has the dashboard now so we can all watch the chaos, destruction and heartbreak in real time.
Pointing out statistics and calling them ‘troubling’ is easy. Saying ‘racism is a public health crisis’ during a press conference is simple. The hard work comes from real leadership that actually seeks to fix these very real societal problems that have existed for far too long and this pandemic has simply laid bare for all to see.
DeWine’s continued delay in action to help our Black communities is leading to preventable infection and death. Enough is enough. Do something!”
DeWine announced the creation of the Minority Health Strike Force April 20 and appointed Leader Sykes, who holds a Masters of Public Health and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida, as one of its 41 members.
“The slogan ‘in this together Ohio’ evokes a sense of shared struggle, of sacrifice and of commitment to one another. But the reality is that since the onset of this pandemic—and for the greater part of a generation or more—Black and Brown families have seen the worst of it,” Sykes wrote in a letter to DeWine May 12. “Racial equity must be more than a talking point. It needs to be an action point for your administration.”
Democrats have called on the governor to act on minority heath disparities since the onset of the pandemic.