Wolf Administration publishes report aimed at addressing health disparities in Pa.’s historically underserved communities

Written by on August 14, 2020

Wolf Administration publishes report aimed at addressing health disparities in Pa.’s historically underserved communities

A task force zeroed in on six key issues.

By Julia Agos, WITF

August 14, 2020

Pa. Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaks to the press after Sheppard’s hearing. Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

The Pennsylvania COVID-19 Response Task Force has released a report addressing issues surrounding health disparity in the commonwealth’s marginalized communities.

Chaired by Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the group’s report includes 57 policy recommendations to help vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

After its formation in mid-April, the task force met weekly with stakeholders and lawmakers to help identify issues affecting Black and Latino communities. They zeroed in on six key issues ranked in order of urgency: housing, criminal justice, food insecurity, health disparity, education and economic opportunities.

With housing singled our as the top priority, Fetterman called for the sealing of evictions for Pennsylvanians who applied for unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An eviction filing can follow a family around for their whole lives creating hardships and uncertainty. The commonwealth has and should continue to step in and make sure housing security is a top priority during the COVID crisis,” Fetterman said during a press conference at the York County YMCA.

Fetterman said the move would prevent tenants from being penalized and jeopardizing their future housing stability — through what he calls, “no fault of their own.” He also recommended standardizing remote learning and access to technology to help ensure all students start with equal learning opportunities.

“As we head into this new school year, we need to ensure that all students start with an equal learning opportunity. We need to work together to bring equitable internet access to all Pennsylvanians. Our broadband infrastructure is in dire need of reform – from the rural counties to cities as large as Philadelphia,” Fetterman said.

The task force also recommends the state implement a Driver’s License Amnesty Program. Fetterman said such a move would remedy conditions that force more people onto mass transit that could spread the virus.

The report will help inform an internal steering committee on dismantling racism established by Governor Tom Wolf earlier this year.

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