GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday created the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, designed to work out why African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the outbreak.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and the first African American to hold that post, is heading up the task force. It will tackle a problem that the administration had highlighted as a problem even before the coronavirus outbreak: health care in the black community.
Gilchrist said the issue is one that impacts the nation.
“It’s critical,” he said. “Black people make up 14% of the population in the state of Michigan but we make up 40% of the COVID-19 deaths. This is something that has proven particularly lethal in communities of color across the state of Michigan and, frankly, across the country and that’s why we have to look into this.”
And for him, it’s personal.
“I felt this personally. Fifteen of people in my life have passed away from COVID-19 and I have several other extended family members and friend who are either hospitalized or have tested positive,” the Detroit native said. “This is hitting home for more and more people in our state.”
According to the governor’s office, the group will be made up of state government leaders and health care workers from communities most impacted by the coronavirus.