Officials at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reportedly sent out a warning to colleagues this week ahead of a heat wave hitting the Big Apple Thursday and Friday, warning that “structural racism” and its implications increase the risk of heat stress for black New Yorkers.
The August 4 alert, addressed to colleagues and distributed to clinical staff in primary care, family medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, pharmacy, and emergency medicine, detailed the heat advisory, which warned of temperatures reaching over 100 on Thursday and the upper 90s on Friday.
Identifying extreme heat as the “deadliest type of extreme weather,” the letter specifically warned that “structural racism and the resulting social and economic inequities increase the risk of heat stress for Black New Yorkers.” It added that Black New Yorkers are “twice as likely to die from heat as White New Yorkers,” adding that most who die of heat stroke “did not have or use air conditioners and were overcome by heat in their homes.”
The letter then provided a list of recommendations for providers, including encouraging people who do not have AC to visit others with it:
NYC Dept of Health & Mental Hygiene warned today that “structural racism increases the risk of heat stress for black New Yorkers.” Our health experts.. pic.twitter.com/9m4kah2j1O
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) August 5, 2022
Notably, the official August 3 press release from NYC Emergency Management on this matter does not include anything about “structural racism” disproportionately affecting the plight of black New Yorkers. Rather, it states:
In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe and healthy when it is hot outside, but some people at risk of heat illness do not have or do not turn on an air conditioner. The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department urge New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat.
“Dangerous heat and high humidity are returning to New York City this week and we encourage New Yorkers to take precautions to avoid exposure to the extreme conditions,” New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said in a statement, urging New Yorkers to stay hydrated.
The release generated a significant amount of mockery across social media.