LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – African Americans represent 13.6% of Michigan’s population, yet 40% of the states deaths from COVID-19.
Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to create the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.
“COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate toll on Michigan’s communities of color and I am confident this task force will help us identify the factors driving this disparity and to identify actions we can take to create a more equitable Michigan for everyone,” said Gov. Whitmer in a written statement
The task force includes members such as Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, and Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Public Health Institute Renée Branch Canady, Ph.D., of Lansing as well as Michigan State University College of Nursing Randolph Rasch, Ph.D.
“We know that generations of racial disparities and inequality has a detrimental impact on the lives of people across the state,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said in a written statement. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown this inequity to be particularly damaging, especially in the Black community, where the health of our friends and family has been disproportionately impacted. That’s why we are taking immediate action to assemble some of the greatest minds to tackle this racial injustice now and in the future.”
The task force will recommend actions to address disparities including:
- Increase transparency in reporting data regarding the racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19
- Remove barriers to accessing physical and mental health care
- Reduce the impact of medical bias in testing and treatment
- Mitigate environmental and infrastructure factors contributing to increased exposure during pandemics resulting in mortality
- Develop and improve systems for supporting long-term economic recovery and physical and mental health care following a pandemic
- Recommend changes in Michigan law relevant to combat racial disparities in the impact of and response to pandemics