California Department of Public Health (2023)

Racism Increases Vulnerability to Health Impacts of Climate Change

By the Office of Health Equity's Climate Change and Health Equity ProgramBoth climate change and the health inequities share similar root causes: the inequitable distribution of social, political, and economic power and the subsequent creation of inequitable systems and living conditions. People experiencing historical and current systemic discrimination based on race tend to experience worse health outcomes on average, as a direct consequence of these power imbalances, systems, and living conditions. Climate change exacerbates the existing health inequities experienced by some communities of color. Indeed, the capacity for resilience in the face of climate change is significantly driven by living conditions and the forces that shape them (e.g., wealth, education, housing, transportation, and environmental quality), as well as access to resources and services (e.g., health care, healthy foods, and community safety and cohesion). Thus, some communities of color experiencing health inequities are likely to have fewer resources to prepare for, adapt to, and recover from the effects of climate change, including the health effects.

For example, due to racial discrimination affecting economic assets, housing and lending, and municipal services, communities of color are more likely to reside in high risk areas with greater climate threats, such as more impervious surfaces and less tree canopy. These conditions result in greater heat island effect. In Fresno County, African-Americans were 8.6 times more likely and Latinos 4.5 times more likely than whites to reside in high risk areas. Populations of color are less likely to have air conditioning, less likely to own a car, and more likely to have one or more chronic health conditions, all of which increase susceptibility to injury and death from climate-related events.[1],[2],[3] It is important to note that people of color are not inherently less resourced or more susceptible to illness. It is due to racism and the impacts of public policies that have impoverished communities of color that there is a correlation between race, poverty, health outcomes, and climate change impacts.

Though there are a number of risk factors and exposures that intensify vulnerability to climate impacts, the experience and impacts of racist policies on living conditions and resources is a recurring element that influences the health and adaptive capacity of some communities of color. In addition, repeated experiences of discrimination, such as racism, create chronic stress, which leads to a host of impacts to physical, mental, and emotional well-being.[4] Prolonged stress elevates levels of the hormone cortisol, which impacts brain structure and function, and damages the body's systems, resulting in poor health outcomes such as depression, low birthweight, maternal mortality, hypertension, and mental illness. In addition, this chronic stress weakens the immune response, increasing susceptibility to illnesses such as chronic diseases and cancers. It also causes changes to the genetic structure, which can be passed to offspring, causing multi-generational impacts of current stress and historical trauma.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Therefore, many of the health disparities experienced by people of color may be considered a consequence of historical and continuing racism. Some epidemiologic evidence indi­cates that chronic psychological stress may also alter susceptibility to physical exposures, such as air pollution.[9],[10] We hold that by extension, chronic stress can also alter susceptibility to other climate change exposures such as extreme heat.

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Because of the above, a social environment that is implicitly or explicitly discriminatory must be understood as a toxic environmental exposure, in addition to exposure to pollutants, which is more common among communities of color.[11],[12] Along with living conditions (e.g. housing, neighborhood conditions, and schools), and traditional environmental exposures (e.g., pollutants, toxins, and climate changes), social exclusion also increases health inequities and climate vulnerability. Conversely, societies with more social inclusion and policies that intentionally work to assess and reduce discrimination will have less physical embodiment of discrimination and the attendant negative health impacts, and be more resilient to changes of all kinds—be they climatic, economic, or political.

Institutionalized racism may be understood as unearned advantages and opportunities for white people and disadvantages for people of color that are systematized in institutions. Eliminating these facets of institutionalized racism to eliminate their health consequences requires deliberate and systemic assessment of institutional policies, processes, and procedures. Opportunities must be sought to reverse historical disadvantage by providing additional resources (financial, services, access to power, education, training, and jobs) to communities facing inequities. Government, civil society, community groups, businesses, and individuals all have a role to play in creating an equitable society where the location someone is born or the shade of their skin does not determine their health status or vulnerability to climate impacts. Explicitly naming and addressing inequities based on racism will improve resilience to health impacts of climate change among people of color, and improve health for all people, as everyone does better in more equal societies.[13]

For further resources on the climate impacts of racism on health, see The Climate Gall Full Report (PDF): (

[1] Gronlund CJ. Racial and socioeconomic disparities in heat-related health effects and their mechanisms: a review. Current Epidemiology Reports. 2014;1(3):165-173.

[2] English P, Richardson M, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J, King G, Jesdale W and Jerrett M. Racial and income disparities in relation to a proposed climate change vulnerability screening method for California. International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts & Responses. 2013;4(2).

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[3] Shonkoff SB, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J. The climate gap: environmental health and equity implications of climate change and mitigation policies in California – a review of the literature. Clim Change. 2011;109(1):485-503.

[4] American Psychological Association. Fact sheet: Health Disparities and Stress. 2016. www. Accessed November 22, 2016.

[5] Chae D, Nuru-Jeter A, Lincoln K, Francis D. Conceptualizing racial disparities in health: advancement of a socio-psychobiological approach. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race. 2011; 8(1):63-77. doi:

[6] Kuzawa CW, Sweet E. Epigenetics and the embodiment of race: developmental origins of US racial disparities in cardiovascular health. Am J Human Biol. 2009; 21:2–15.

[7] McEwan, B. S. Protection and Damage from Acute and Chronic Stress: Allostasis and Allostatic Overload and Relevance to the Pathophysiology of Psychiatric Disorders. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2004;1032: 1–7. doi:10.1196/annals.1314.001.

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[8] David H. C, Nuru-Jeter AM, Lincoln KD, Jacob Arriola KR. Racial Discrimination, Mood Disorders, and Cardiovascular Disease Among Black Americans. Annals of Epidemiology. 2012;22(2):104-111. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.10.009.

[9] Clougherty JE, Levy JI, Kubzansky LD, Ryan PB, Suglia SF, Canner MJ, et al. Synergistic effects of traffic-related air pollution and exposure to violence on urban asthma etiology. Environ Health Perspect. 2007; 115: 1140–1146.

[10] Chen E, Schreier HMC, Strunk R, Brauer M. Chronic traffic-related air pollution and stress interact to predict biological and clinical outcomes in asthma. Environ Health Perspect. 2008; 116:970–975.

[11] Perlin S, Sexton K, Wong D. An examination of race and poverty for populations living near industrial sources of air pollution. Journal Of Exposure Analysis & Environmental Epidemiology [serial online]. February 1999;9(1):29. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 24, 2017.

[12] Clark L, Millet D, Marshall J. National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: Outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9(4):e94431.

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[13] Wilkenson R, Pickett K. The spirit level: Why greater equality makes societies stronger. New York: Bloomsbury Press; 2009. (PDF). Accessed by January 20, 2017.

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Can employers require COVID vaccine in California? ›

As explained by the Department of Fair Housing and Employment, an employer may require employees to receive an FDA approved vaccination against COVID-19 infection so long as the employer: does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic; provides reasonable ...

Can you still test positive for Covid after 7 days? ›

Sometimes, people can get a positive COVID-19 test result even though they no longer have COVID-19. This is because people with COVID-19 have infected cells in their body that release the virus into the environment through breathing, sneezing or coughing, or through their faeces and urine.

Will the health department call you if you test positive for Covid California? ›

They might: Be notified directly by a personal contact who recently tested positive. Be notified by their work or school setting. Receive an anonymous notification from

What if I test positive for Covid but have no symptoms? ›

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but have not had any symptoms: Isolate for at least 5 days after you tested positive for COVID-19. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if you have not developed any symptoms.

Are California employers allowed to ask about vaccination status? ›

The answer is also “yes.” What's more, asking for an employee's vaccination status or proof of vaccination does not constitute a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects certain health information of patients.

Did SB 866 pass? ›

Senate Bill 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act - which was authored by San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener - passed the Senate Thursday, officials confirm. Our legislation to allow teens to protect their own health by getting vaccinated (SB 866) just passed the Senate. Thank you, colleagues.

Can I go for a walk if I have COVID? ›

Gradually build up exercise – seize the time when you are feeling less tired and go for a short walk – but you MUST still avoid any contact with others. However, at this stage lookout for breath related symptoms (see below what to look for).

Am I still contagious after 5 days of COVID? ›

You can leave isolation if: It has been 5 days after your symptoms began (or if you never develop symptoms, 5 days after your initial positive test), and. You are fever-free for at least 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications), and. Other symptoms are improving.

How long am I contagious after testing positive for COVID? ›

You are considered contagious from two days before your symptoms begin until 10 days after your symptoms began. If you have no symptoms, you are considered contagious beginning two days before your test sample was collected and until 10 days after your test sample was collected.

Should I report a positive home Covid test in California? ›

Individuals should report their test result according to the instructions recommended by the test. Some home tests have automatic reporting, others require the individual who tested to report their results through a phone application.

Can I spread Covid if I test negative? ›

You can have COVID-19 and spread it to others even if you do not have symptoms. Your COVID-19 test can be negative even if you are infected. Most people do not test positive for the virus until days after exposure. You may also be exposed to the virus afteryou are tested and then get infected.

Can I go to work if I test positive for Covid California? ›

Workers should stay home unless they need medical care. Paid sick leave may be available to them while they recover at home. Provide workers with information on how they can request and use paid sick leave benefits.

How long is COVID contagious? ›

People with moderate or severe COVID-19 should isolate through at least day 10. Those with severe COVID-19 may remain infectious beyond 10 days and may need to extend isolation for up to 20 days.

Can I have Covid with no cough? ›

The disease is quite variable, and everyone is different. Many people who are infected have more mild symptoms like a scratchy throat, stuffy or runny nose, occasional mild cough, fatigue, and no fever. Some people have no symptoms at all, but they can still spread the disease.”

Can you get Covid if someone in your house has it? ›

Because coronavirus is transmitted through close contact with someone who is infected, it's common for the virus to spread within homes.

Can an interviewer ask if you are vaccinated? ›

Employers should only ask applicants vaccination questions that pertain to the job, explained Carolyn Rashby, an attorney with Covington & Burling in San Francisco. So, if the company is not asking employees if they have been vaccinated, it should not pose that question to applicants, either.

What if I test positive for Covid? ›

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 (PCR or antigen test), you should stay at home for 5 days from when your symptoms started. If you have no symptoms, stay at home for 5 days from the date of your test. You can leave home after 5 days if your symptoms have fully or mostly gone for the last 48 hours.

What is considered close contact with COVID-19? ›

Definition. Close Contact through proximity and duration of exposure: Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three separate 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

Who qualifies for SB 775 California? ›

SB 775 allows certain people convicted of aiding and abetting attempted murder or manslaughter to get a sentence reduction. you believe you are eligible for relief, you can fill out the attached petition to ask the trial court to consider resentencing you.

Did SB 300 pass California? ›

SB 300 is currently in the California State Senate. For it to become law it would first need to pass by majority vote in the California Senate. Then it will need to pass by a majority vote in the California State Assembly. After that, the California Governor would need to sign the bill into law.

Did California SB 9 pass? ›

The California HOME Act—otherwise known as Senate Bill (SB) 9—took effect on January 1st, 2022 and makes it possible for homeowners to split their home's lot and build up to four homes on a single-family parcel.

What is a COVID cough like? ›

A dry cough is one of the most common coronavirus symptoms, but some people may have a cough with phlegm (thick mucus). It can be difficult to control your cough but there are a few ways to help.

What does COVID sore throat feel like? ›

Because COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus, a COVID-19 sore throat may look and feel like other viral sore throats. One clue that you have viral pharyngitis is that it is often accompanied by other common symptoms.

Can you lose your smell after 5 days with COVID? ›

One of the most curious symptoms of COVID-19 is loss of smell. It can occur during the illness and linger for weeks, months or years. It can also crop up after the infection goes away. This makes loss of smell a common symptom of long COVID-19.

Am I contagious if I don't have a fever? ›

While you may not see any symptoms, you may still be contagious. Understanding your infection and its contagious period will help you and others stay healthy.

Can you be positive one day and negative the next Covid? ›

Unfortunately, yes—it is possible.

Can I quarantine if my husband and I both have Covid? ›

If two people in the same household need to quarantine, then they should do so by themselves, taking the same precautions as if they were trying to quarantine in a space with a healthy person who has no reason to believe they've been exposed to COVID-19.

Am I still contagious after 7 days? ›

If you are significantly immunosuppressed, you are more likely to be infectious for longer than 7 days and may still be able to spread the virus. Follow these measures until day 14 following your positive test result to further reduce any remaining risk of spreading the virus.

Am I still contagious after 10 days if I have a cough? ›

You are contagious for the entire period of time symptoms are present, all the way until they disappear.

What is the timeline for Covid symptoms? ›

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Possible symptoms include: Fever or chills.

What medicine should I take for Covid? ›

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), to help you feel better.

How long to quarantine with COVID? ›

If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home. You are likely most infectious during these first 5 days. Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public. Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.

What to do if you test positive for COVID at home California? ›

If you test positive, you are strongly encouraged to isolate (stay home and away from other people) for at least 5 full days, to prevent spreading the disease to others. Isolation is recommended even if you have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 before.

How long is Omicron contagious for? ›

Your infectiousness is highest 1 day before the start of your symptoms and begins to wane about a week later for most people. The Omicron variant has a shorter incubation period, compared to other variants. For the Omicron variant, the incubation period is 1 to 4 days.

What if my test came back negative but still have symptoms? ›

It's possible your viral load was not high enough the first time around. (This is also the guidance suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.) If the repeat test is still negative, and it's important for you to find out whether you have Covid-19, you could go take a PCR test.

How long does Omicron last? ›

How long do omicron symptoms last? Most people who test positive with any variant of COVID-19 typically experience some symptoms for a couple weeks. People who have long COVID-19 symptoms can experience health problems for four or more weeks after first being infected, according to the CDC.

What is the infectious period in California? ›

The COVID-19 infectious period starts: For symptomatic confirmed cases, 2 days before the confirmed case had any symptoms (symptom onset date is Day 0) through Days 5-10 after symptoms first appeared AND 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved, OR.

Can I return to work with a cough after Covid? ›

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you no longer feel ...

What are the quarantine rules for COVID-19 in California? ›

Quarantine can end after Day 5 if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen collected on Day 5 or later tests negative. If unable to test or choosing not to test and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after Day 10. Wear a “well-fitting mask” around others for a total of 10 days.

How long after COVID are you immune? ›

Once you have had COVID-19, your immune system responds in several ways. This immune response can protect you against another infection for several months, but this protection decreases over time.

Can you still test positive for COVID after 7 days? ›

Sometimes, people can get a positive COVID-19 test result even though they no longer have COVID-19. This is because people with COVID-19 have infected cells in their body that release the virus into the environment through breathing, sneezing or coughing, or through their faeces and urine.

What happens if you test positive after 10 days? ›

If you continue to test positive on repeat testing through 10 days, you should continue to wear a mask and avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease until you receive two sequential negative antigen test results.

What day does COVID peak? ›

In infected individuals, the peak viral load occurred on day 5, with the virus first detected in the throat and then rising to significantly higher levels in the nose.

Can I shower if I have COVID? ›

Keep warm. Use a humidifier or take a hot shower for sore throat and cough. Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce fever and relieve aches and pains.

What does a COVID headache feel like? ›

The research shows that covid-19 headaches are most similar to either tension headaches or migraines. The symptoms of tension-like headaches include: Moderate or severe pain. Pain on both sides of the head.

Can you sleep in the same bed with someone who has COVID? ›

If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate from others and follow isolation recommendations at much as possible. separate rooms, using different bathrooms, not sleeping in the same bed, and eating in separate areas. phones or other electronics.

What medicine is good for COVID cough? ›

Use medications containing guaifenesin, such as Robitussin, Mucinex, and Vicks 44E. keeping you from getting rest. Coughing is useful because it brings up mucus from the lungs and helps prevent bacterial infections.

Can you get COVID 3 times? ›

Since it's been estimated that over 80% of Americans have been infected with COVID-19 at least once, concern about reinfection is valid. Indeed, a person can get COVID-19 once, twice, three times or more. Does looking at the impact of reinfection matter, especially if you've been vaccinated? Absolutely.

Do CA state employees have to be vaccinated? ›

“As the state's largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.

Is COVID vaccine mandatory for students in California? ›

The latest sign that California is easing out of the pandemic and into the endemic phase: The state has dropped its plan to require the COVID-19 vaccination for K-12 students as the state of emergency comes to an end Feb. 28, after nearly three years.

How long are you contagious with COVID? ›

People with moderate or severe COVID-19 should isolate through at least day 10. Those with severe COVID-19 may remain infectious beyond 10 days and may need to extend isolation for up to 20 days.

Is NY going to mandate healthcare workers for COVID vaccine? ›

NEW YORK -- New York is ending its COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers. The state's Department of Health says the change is "due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Can an employer require masks for unvaccinated employees in California? ›

However, employers are required to mandate face masks in the workplace in the following situations: If the employer has onsite indoor health screening, the employees who are being screened and the screeners need to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.

Do healthcare workers still have to be vaccinated in California? ›

Federal rules will continue to ensure that most healthcare workers remain vaccinated for COVID-19.

Do healthcare workers still need to be vaccinated in California? ›

On March 3, 2023, the CDPH announced it would end vaccination requirements for healthcare workers, including those in direct care, adult care, correctional facilities, and detention centers effective April 3, 2023.

Do all teachers in California have to be vaccinated? ›

Tomás Aragón rescinded a public health order requiring that all school employees show proof of vaccination or be tested at least weekly. The new policy is effective Sept. 17. The decision was made to align state and federal health guidance and because most Californians have been vaccinated against the virus, he said.

Is the COVID vaccine FDA approved? ›

On April 18, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent to simplify the vaccination schedule for most individuals. This action includes authorizing the current bivalent vaccine (Original and Omicron BA. 4/BA.

Do kids have to be vaccinated to go to private school in California? ›

Students will no longer be required to have immunizations for entry if they attend: A home-based private school or. An independent study program with no classroom-based instruction.

Can I test positive for Covid and not be contagious? ›

Both PCR tests and antigen tests (including home tests) can continue to turn up positive even after someone is no longer considered infectious.

Can an employer ask if you are vaccinated nys? ›

Yes. An employer may ask about vaccination status and request documentation or confirmation that an employee received the vaccine from a third party.

Is it a mandate to be vaccinated in New York? ›

The COVID-19 vaccine requirement applied to current city and DOE employees, nonpublic school staff, early childcare and daycare staff, prospective City employees, as well as visitors to Department of Education (DOE) school buildings.

Do you still have to be vaccinated to work in NYC? ›

As of February 10, 2023, COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required for City workers, new hires, and contracted employees. Learn more about the end of the vaccine mandate.


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