Michigan became the latest in a long line of states to declare racism a public health crisis on Wednesday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the declaration and announced the creation of a state advisory council to address issues affecting Black Michigan residents and implicit bias training for every state employee, reports the Detroit Free Press.

The Black Leadership Advisory Council will look through the state's laws and identify statutes that need to be changed to make things fairer for Black Michigan residents. 

"We have a lot of work to do to eliminate the systemic racism that Black Americans have experienced for generations," Whitmer said according to the Detroit Free Press.

Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist were spurred to make the change due to the state's high coronavirus death toll in Black communities and the recent protests over police brutality. During a press conference, Gilchrist said he knows at least 23 people close to him who have died from complications related to COVID-19. 

Milwaukee County in Wisconsin became the first U.S. county to declare racism as a public health crisis in May 2019. The American Public Health Association has created a website that lists every county in 19 states that has passed a similar resolution.

"Racism attacks people’s physical and mental health. And racism is an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now! We see discrimination every day in all aspects of life, including housing, education, the criminal justice system and employment. And it is amplified during this pandemic as communities of color face inequities in everything from a greater burden of COVID-19 cases to less access to testing, treatment and care," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, in a statement.

The declarations vary widely, with some including specific measures or plans to address racism while others are more ceremonial and symbolic efforts. Some proposals are focused exclusively on health care while others try to address the racism at the root of all government interactions with people of color.


“When someone doesn’t look at racism and equity every day like I do, it can be hard to connect those dots. So that’s why if we declare racism and racist attitudes and racist structures as part of this overall public health crisis, we can see how racism literally can kill people,” said Kendall Boyd, chief equity officer for the city of Louisville, in an interview with The New York Times.

The city is mulling its own resolution.  

Here are some of the cities and states that have also declared racism a public health crisis: