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The US now has a new President- and Vice President-Elect. The American people have spoken with their votes and chosen a new administration that campaigned on promises to foster unity, equity, and transparency.

Reflecting on the results, one thing everyone can agree on is that it was historic. For example, a record 66.4 percent of eligible voters exercised their right to vote, more than in any other US election; Kamala Harris became the first female, first Black, and first South Asian person to be elected Vice President; and nearly 600 openly LGBTQ+ candidates appeared on ballots, with many ultimately elected to serve their communities.

And yet, despite these groundbreaking steps for our country, the nation broke still one more record—one that threatens us all. Last week, the US reached new highs in our daily count of new COVID-19 infections and overall deaths continued to climb. In total, there have been more than 10 million infections and 236,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the US alone.

Since February, the pandemic has shined a spotlight on the inequities and broken systems in our nation, as well as shaped how people respond to public health crises in America. The Biden/Harris team’s recently released transition plans make clear that addressing the pandemic in a coordinated and science-based manner will be a priority within their first 100 days in office. While we at The BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) fully support this effort, we also know there is more that must be done to ensure the health of communities across the country.

The pandemic is this generation’s wake up call. Addressing the confluence of systemic racism, inequality, and oppression and their impact on our health is critical if we want to thrive economically, socially, and culturally as a nation.

The latest wave of COVID-19 is a sobering backdrop to the election and a reminder that there is still a long road ahead for us all when it comes to ensuring the safety and prosperity of our nation. Voting was just one of many steps in securing our nation’s health and well-being. What comes next requires all of us—working together across party lines, geographic lines, and cultural lines—to confront our history of systemic racism; replace the broken systems that reinforce inequity; and create a path forward that ensures a more equitable future for all. In so doing we may have the chance to not only limit the spread of the virus, but also to address the root causes for which the virus was able to spread unchecked and disproportionately affect communities of color to begin with.

To further support the efforts of BUILD communities and those that share our vision for moving resources, attention, and action upstream, I’ve spotlighted three policy-focused resources that may be of use. Together, we can support the creation of sustainable policies that not only seek to eliminate racial inequities, but also advance equity and better health for all.

  • Policy 101: In this webinar created for BUILD awardees and partners, ChangeLab Solutions explores how policy can be an effective tool for creating change and healthier communities. (LINK)
  • Blueprint for Changemakers: Achieving health equity through law & policy: This resource presents legal strategies and best practices to help policymakers, practitioners, and communities improve health outcomes. Created by ChangeLab Solutions, the blueprint outlines ways to leverage the unique power and efficacy of local policy solutions, incorporate health in all policies, and engage diverse community members in the policy process. (LINK)  
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review: What role can nonprofits, advocates, philanthropists, foundations and others play amid the political process to advance their missions? Here are 13 SSIR articles to help your organization speak out during the transition period and encourage others to join your cause. (LINK)

Let’s work together to make sure the next big record we break is one that advances equitable solutions that support our nation’s health, healing, and prosperity.