The city of Edina is officially acknowledging the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on non-white people.

The Edina City Council recognized those disparities June 2 when it unanimously approved a proclamation “centering equity in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The proclamation notes that “emerging COVID-19 infection and mortality data illustrates a disturbing, disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, most specifically African-American communities.”

In addition to the disparate health outcomes found among people of color compared to white people, a survey from the city of Edina found a racial gap in socioeconomic outcomes as well.

From April 24 through May 7, 1,769 people were surveyed on the city’s community outreach website, BetterTogetherEdina.org. The respondents, 1,649 of whom opted to identify their race and ethnicity, were asked about their concerns in 12 categories of basic needs, including access to work, food, medical care, childcare, household toiletries, the internet, mental or emotional support, and transportation and housing.

Although the survey was “not statistically valid,” Edina Race and Equity Coordinator Heidi Lee noted, it did show racial gaps in each category. For example, 20% of white respondents were concerned about work, while a greater percentage of people identifying as black, indigenous, or people of color noted such a concern.

Listing work as a concern amidst the pandemic were 35% of black respondents, 37% of Asians, 33% of American Indians or Alaskans, 28% of Hispanic or LatinX people and 30% of those identifying as two or more races.

Other noticeable disparities could be found in households that rent or include youth, seniors and those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, Lee mentioned. In explaining why the survey was not statistically valid, she noted the questionnaire only reached 3.4% of the city’s population and that respondents could choose to skip questions.

While the pandemic has highlighted inequities, the city’s reaffirmation of its equity focus is not limited to the pandemic, “but how the city will center equity work in our future and current work in our departments,” Lee added.

To her, the pandemic is not only a crisis to be addressed in itself, but “an opportunity for our city and community to better understand how we are all impacted when some of us lack the unequal access to resources, health and opportunities.”

In its equity proclamation regarding COVID-19, Edina joins neighbors Richfield and Bloomington.

“We are closely tied to our neighbors to the east and the south, and this is a really good way to solidify that relationship and work together,” Mayor Jim Hovland said.

– Follow Andrew Wig on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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