Actions will tell, but Patrick Allen — head of Oregon Health Authority — issued kind of a remarkable statement yesterday.
While health equity is a stated value of our agency, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how far short we are from eliminating health inequity in this state. A crisis has a tendency to expose your weaknesses and areas where systems are inadequate, and this pandemic has been no exception. The broad impacts of the coronavirus have fallen especially hard on Black and African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and Latino, Latina, and Latinx people, in the U.S., and here in Oregon. A centuries-long history of racism and oppression have led to the very health conditions that exacerbate the impacts of COVID-19. And we at OHA were, frankly, too slow to recognize that threat and act on it. For that, I’m truly sorry.