Erin Mendenhall
Mayor | Salt Lake City, UT

Formal Declaration of Racism as a Public Health Crisis

IDEA CATAGORY: Equity & Opportunity


According to the Utah Department of Health, communities of color in the Salt Lake area experienced significant disparities across a range of health issues in comparison to their white counterparts – an issue that became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has long existed. Data has indicated that communities of color consistently have lower average birth weights, higher infant mortality rates, lower numbers of cancer screenings despite increased likelihood of contracting certain cancers, and increased odds of infection and high case fatality rates from COVID-19.

These proven disparities in health amongst minority groups are strongly attributed to the structural disadvantages caused by institutional racism. Systemic racism has made it harder for communities of color to access resources such as housing assistance, quality education, effective healthcare, and employment opportunities in an equitable manner. Challenges in accessing these resources keeps communities of color more susceptible to exposure to environmental toxins, police violence, chronic homelessness, and other issues. 


The Joint Resolution signed by SLC City Council and Mayor Erin Mendenhall marks a paradigm shift when it comes to talking about and addressing issues of racism and prejudice in the United State. By acknowledging the detrimental ripple effects on physical and mental health that racism has in communities of color, Salt Lake City is one of several cities following the CDC’s lead and approaching racism as a public health crisis affecting all facets of daily life, not just an isolated social issue.  

Following the Joint Resolution, Salt Lake City established the Mayor’s Office of Equity & Inclusion and the Racial Equity in Policing Commission, to holistically address racial inequities. While the Office of Equity & Inclusion is currently tasked with an equity study to develop strategies to address systemic inequities, the Commission is more narrowly focused on improving police training, policies and practices, and school safety. The mayor’s office and city council are taking a strong step towards righting past failures and have brought together a racially diverse group of individuals with strong ties to the Salt Lake community,  to build a government that truly represents and reflects the diverse communities in Salt Lake. 

More Idea’s from Erin Mendenhall

ARP: Salt Lake City UT, Bundles Child Care, Job Training

IDEA CATAGORY: Jobs and Entrepreneurship | FUNDING SOURCE: ARP

SLC Digital Equity

IDEA CATAGORY: Broadband, Education, Infrastructure | FUNDING SOURCE: ARP