Racism Is a Public Health Crisis Policies and COVID-19

by Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES

This is the third installment of the APHA HA Section–Public Health Management to Practice series. Here, we continue our discussion of the significance of introducing racism as a public health crisis. Due to the nature of this topic, it will be delivered in three parts to capture the background of this work, application, and implications for pandemic response. Jeanette Kowalik is the former Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee, and in the podcast below, she shares and reflects on being part of the first jurisdiction in the country to do this important and necessary work and apply it to the pandemic response.

In this final podcast, Dr. Michele McKay and I discuss the impact of systemic racism on COVID-19 in the City of Milwaukee and the city’s response following a declaration that racism is a public health crisis.

A variety of events that occurred prior to the passage of the declaration and after are outlined in our previous posts, including the development of department specific anti-racism plans during the pandemic (part 1) and the action steps that the City of Milwaukee took to operationalize how it would dismantle racism in city government (part 2).

Listen to the Podcast

Podcast Host: Dr. Michele McCay. Music (Gameshow Brazz) by John Bartmann from Pixabay

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About the Speakers

Dr. Michele McCay

Dr. Michele McCay is the American Public Health Association’s Health Administration Section Chair for 2020-2021. Dr. McCay’s work focuses on the diverse leadership, programming, and service issues affecting women, children, and families. Dr. McCay currently teaches full-time at DePaul University in the Department of Health Sciences.





Dr. Jeanette Kowalik

Dr. Jeanette Kowalik has 19 years of progressive public health experience representing the life course. She began her career as an intern at the City of Milwaukee Health Department in 2002; she returned in 2018 to serve as the Commissioner of Health. Dr. Kowalik currently serves as the Director of Policy Development for the Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, bi-partisan health policy organization.