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Following city of Lafayette, Tippecanoe County declares racism a public health crisis

County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh during a council meeting in March (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh during a council meeting in March (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Tippecanoe County passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring racism a public health crisis.

The resolution follows on the heels of a similar resolution passed by the City of Lafayette earlier this month.

The resolution highlights lower rates of health insurance coverage, higher poverty and infant mortality rates, and lower salaries among minority groups compared with whites in Tippecanoe County.

Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said the resolution underlines that racism impacts health outcomes in the county.

“This obviously brings that to the light of day, and then also gives some real focus to governmental entities on how to combat that in the future,” he said.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Greg Loomis worked alongside the Human Relations Commission to get the resolution passed.

“I think what we need to do is we’ve passed the resolution, now we need to do something about it,” he said.

Loomis said he hopes to initiate diversity and inclusion training at the health department as part of an effort to address disparities.

“To make people aware that these issues exist and we can’t put blinders on anymore,” he said. “It’s uncomfortable because it hasn’t been addressed sooner than this – that’s what is uncomfortable about it.”

The City of West Lafayette is expected to pass a similar resolution next month. Across the state, only a handful of other jurisdictions have declared racism a public health crisis. These include Indianapolis, Evansville, and St. Joseph County.