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COVID-19 & Ohio: Improving Minority Health, Updated County Risk Levels

August 13, 2020

Today, Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided an update on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. 

DeWine released the final Minority Health Strike Force report and the state's executive response. The Minority Health Strike Force was formed in April to examine the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minority communities, as well as broader health disparities and racial injustices.

Currently, African Americans represent 14 percent of Ohio's population but are 24 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 32 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 19 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio. Similarly, at least 6 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ohio are Latino, despite only representing 3.9 percent of Ohio's population. 

The COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint lists 34 recommendations on dismantling racism, removing public health obstacles, improving the social/economic and physical environments, and strengthening data collection to better track disparities. In response to the strike force's report, DeWine issued Ohio’s Executive Response: A Plan of Action to Advance Equity. The action plan outlines efforts to reinforce the DeWine Administration's commitment to advancing health equity and establishing Ohio as a model for justice, equity, opportunity, and resilience. 

As part of his commitment to equity, DeWine also announced the creation of the new Ohio Governor's Equity Advisory Board. The board will work to improve Ohio’s work to dismantle racism and promote health equity. Board members will draw on the expertise within Ohio’s communities of color and will represent diverse viewpoints from sectors like education, healthcare, public and private business, community organizations and members of the criminal justice community.

"We are committed to solutions, because as I have stated before, racism is a public health crisis," DeWine said. "Each of us has a responsibility to be mindful of and work to counteract racial and other disparities that hold Ohioans back from reaching their full God-given potential. I will not shy away from addressing these long-entrenched inequalities among our fellow Ohio citizens. Fortunately, we have many great partners in this mission, and we are grateful to the individuals and organizations that provided feedback to the strike force and who have worked with my administration on this issue."

“The COVID-19 Ohio Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint sets a foundation that promotes sustained long-term and lifetime wellness and focuses on individuals and communities of color who disproportionately are afflicted with health disparities and chronic disease conditions," said Dr. Charles Modlin, M.D., executive director minority health, founder/director,  Minority Men’s Health Center, and urologist, Cleveland Clinic. "We understand that improvements to healthcare access and social and economic factors and determinants of health are critical to addressing disparities and improving health outcomes for all Ohioans. I commend Governor DeWine for taking the blueprint and quickly working with his administration to outline concrete next steps to improve the health and wellbeing of all Ohioans and advance equity across the state of Ohio."

DeWine also announced today that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 12 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

Detailed information all of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website. The system was developed to provide local health departments, community leaders, and the public with data and information on the severity of the COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. The system consists of four levels with specific risk-level guidelines. Each level is calculated with data gathered on seven public health indicators

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