Published: May 4, 2020
(Updated May 5, 2020)
As cities grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on their local communities, cities may wonder how to address race equity. The state and other cities have created helpful resources that may benefit your community.
The League will continue to compile race equity resources, so check here for updates.
Q7. What are Minnesota cities doing to address race equity during this health pandemic? (Updated May 5, 2020)
A1. Yes. The National League of Cities (NLC) explains in a recent article, Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on Communities of Color, that “local leaders must account for the systemic and institutional racism that make black people and other people of color particularly vulnerable to both the virus itself, complications from the disease, and the societal and economic insecurity created by the pandemic.”
NLC provides steps city leaders can take to address these disparities:
- Partner with health care providers to collect accurate demographic data and disaggregate by race.
- Target resources to address disparities.
- Integrate equity into emergency command center operations.
- Ensure that reducing discrimination and stigma stemming from racism are addressed as part of city COVID-19 response.
- Invest in local businesses of color.
A2. Unfortunately, yes. Gov. Tim Walz launched a Community Resiliency and Recovery Work Group. In the Community Resiliency and Recovery Overview, it states:
“We know that systemic disparities impact communities of color and indigenous communities, including immigrants and refugees, making these groups more vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. People of color, indigenous people, immigrants, and refugees are more susceptible to get infected, and more susceptible to die from COVID-19. These groups have increased exposure to the virus because of higher rates of work in low-paying jobs, now considered essential. People of color and indigenous people also have a substantially higher rate of health inequities and underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, severe asthma, and obesity.
“Additionally, we see evidence that communities of color and indigenous communities will be more deeply impacted financially due to COVID-19. The unemployment rate for people of color and indigenous people is more than double that of white Minnesotans, and the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans is the highest it’s ever been in history. We are carefully monitoring these impacts and taking action to protect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities in Minnesota.”
As of April 27, 2020, 14% of the confirmed cases are black Minnesotans, even though they only represent 6.3% of the state. Also, 51% of the confirmed cases are white Minnesotans, which make up 79.9% of the state.
A3. Cities may wish to include a racial equity lens to the actions being taken by the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. This may include examination of policy and procedural decisions, which could have a disparate impact on communities of color. This may also include sharing information with residents on how to report discrimination, where to access language resources on staying safe, and sharing reliable information from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Q4. If city residents are looking for multilingual COVID-19 resources, where can the city find them?
A4. There are many resources available through the Governor’s Office, MDH, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, CDC, along with city-specific websites.
Governor’s Office. Gov. Tim Walz has Stay-at-Home Materials that have been translated into Amharic, Hmong, Karen, Oromo, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.
The Governor also has 15-, 30-, and 60-second Stay-at-Home videos explaining the importance of the order in the languages of Amharic, Hmong, Karen, Oromo, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.
Health resources — MDH Hotline. MDH has a number of health resources in multiple languages. MDH also has a COVID-19 hotline, where interpreters are available:
(651) 201-3920 or (800) 657-3903
7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Schools and child care questions:
(651) 297-1304 or (800) 657-3504
7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Health resources — MDH flyer. MDH’s “Prevent the Spread of COVID-19” flyer has been translated into Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, French, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Nepali, Oromo, Pashto, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Health resources — CDC resources. The White House and CDC have translated the President’s Conoravirus Guidelines for America’s “30 Days to Slow the Spread” into the languages of Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.
City resources. Some cities are also providing city-specific information in different languages:
- St. Paul: Translators are available to answer questions about COVID-19 via phone or email in Hmong, Karen, Oromo, Somali, and Spanish. Contact: (651) 266-6000 or LanguageResources@ci.stpaul.mn.us.
- Richfield: The city website includes a Google Translate button that translates the contents of the page into over 100 languages. This is included on Richfield’s COVID-19 Response page and Resources The Google Translate button says “Select language” and is located in the navigation at the very top of each page.
Q5. We hear there may be acts of racial bias or discrimination happening related to COVID-19, but they are not getting reported to our police department. What can the city do to address this issue?
A5. There are several resources available for this.
State discrimination reporting website. With rising reports of discrimination from the Asian Pacific Islander community, Gov. Tim Walz launched a Discrimination Helpline to reinforce the state’s efforts to protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Walz said, “As Asian Americans in Minnesota report heightened cases of discrimination amid COVID-19, my message is clear: ‘Viruses don’t discriminate, and neither do we.’”
- MDH Flyer: “Viruses Don’t Discriminate and Neither Should We”
Minnesotans who experience or witness discrimination should report incidents directly to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ Discrimination Helpline:
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Reports can also be submitted through this online form. Translation services are available.
Multilingual information on the Discrimination Helpline has been translated into Amharic, Bhutanese, Cambodian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Hmong, Karen, Laotian, Nepali, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.
A6. The National League of Cities published an article, Prioritize Equity in COVID-19 Response. This article includes sample language that city leaders could use, including: “Our city is committed to centering racial equity in our community’s responses to the COVID-19 global pandemic.” (NOTE: One of the authors was Minnesota’s own St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano.)
Cities have also passed COVID-related resolutions that include race equity.
For example, Minneapolis’ Resolution No. 2020R-076 declaring a local emergency includes:
“The Mayor is hereby requested to center race equity in all aspects of the city’s COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts, and to analyze the implications of actions taken during this Local Public Health Emergency through a Racial Equity Impact Analysis.
“Prioritization of culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach materials for non-English speaking residents and businesses.”
Examples of other city resolutions:
A7. Several cities are including race equity as part of their COVID-19 response. Here are a few examples.
- The city’s Racial Equity Coordinator provides city leaders and emergency management team with a racial equity framework to analyze COVID-19 response policies and decisions, addressing how this pandemic may exacerbate existing racial inequities.
- The city provides culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate COVID-19 messages and resources to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) using accessible mediums and are connected to employment, business, rental, and income assistance programs.
- The Community Outreach and Engagement Division connects with BIPOC communities through the city’s faith communities, multi-unit housing with priority to subsidized and NOAH properties, community leaders, seniors and congregate living facilities, non-profit service providers, school district, Normandale Community College, and Chamber of Commerce.
- The city’s Public Health, Public Works, Public Safety, and Parks and Recreation departments worked together to launch the Parks Response Team, which monitors parks and trail use and responds to resident questions about their use.
- City staff volunteer at a local food bank that helps low-income individuals and families regardless of citizenship status.
- Community impact survey results shared with City Council and community.
- City granted funds to five nonprofit organizations for emergency assistance.
- Youth outreach workers reactivated in Zane corridor for education rather than enforcement on social distancing.
- Mailing to all renters with information on resources and how to connect with the city/other agencies.
- Continuing to provide more updates, resources, city info, etc. on the city’s COVID-19 web page.
- Park ambassadors are located at different facilities to help promote stay-at-home orders and social distancing best practices.
- City signs and mailing are designed and printed with focus on icons/graphics with language translations. With the city’s translation services in mailings, there are QR code offerings for Somali and Spanish, since those are the two most spoken languages in the city other than English.
- Better Together Edina and City of Edina website is platform to provide information to community about COVID-19 and links to CDC, MDH, and various organizations that can be a resource.
- A Resource Hotline has been established where people can call in with COVID-19 related questions and get assistance. City staff who are intaking the calls are tracking patterns of language translation needs.
- The city has a Conoravirus Update website that includes a link to the information in Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.
- Acknowledging how COVID-19 can exacerbate existing racial disparities, Minneapolis created a COVID-19 Rapid Response Tool to assist the city’s proposed actions or decisions.
- Weekly email updates with community-based organizations and neighborhood organizations regarding funding opportunities, community resources, and links to communication materials.
- Connection with the city’s cultural radio shows. The city has weekly programs on KMOJ 89.9 FM (English); La Raza 95.7 FM (Spanish); KALY 101.7 FM (Somali); and WIXK AM 1590 (Hmong).
- Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunities (HREEO) has been working with partners in the Asian community and the City Council to put out anti-discrimination statements and has asked residents to report potential discrimination.
- The city also has a Multilingual Health Information Section on its COVID-19 Resource page and updated resource information on the Immigrant Resources page with specific COVID-19 issues.
- St. Paul has formed a Racial Equity Work Group, led by the City’s Chief Equity Officer, which is housed within the city’s Emergency Operation Center. The focus areas of this group include economic justice, community engagement and partnership, communications, discrimination and xenophobia, data, and intergovernmental relations.
- The Saint Paul Bridge Fund is an emergency relief program for families with children and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The $3.85 million fund will be distributed to qualifying St. Paul families with children as a flat-rate $1,000 grant and to qualifying small businesses as a flat-rate $7,500 grant.
A8. Ramsey County has created two new teams to respond to the COVID-19 emergency: Racial Equity and Community Engagement Response Team and Compliance and Oversight Team, which report directly to the county manager for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
The Ramsey County Racial Equity and Community Engagement Response Team will focus on:
- Data collection and sharing that is focused on measurement of race and ethnic-based disparities during the public health and economic crises.
- Effective, focused communication into racial and ethnic communities that otherwise may be missed during a COVID-19 response.
- Program design and implementation with community collaboration that ensures effective service to racial and ethnic communities that may otherwise see significant disparities in outcomes.
- Building trust through engagement, transparency, and accountability throughout Ramsey County’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Ramsey County Oversight Team will focus on:
- Compliance and oversight to ensure accountability, transparency, and effectiveness of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 programmatic efforts, including hiring and spending during the duration of the emergency response.
- Partnering with the Racial Equity Response Team to ensure that goals and efforts around racial equity are reflected in Ramsey County’s public health and economic responses, including purchasing and contracting.
- Data collection and information sharing that is focused on organizational spend, hiring, contract issuance, and program compliance.
For more information on efforts by Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County, read: WCCO Investigates: Which Neighborhood Are At High Risk for COVID-19