Report Highlights Progress on Racial Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Report Highlights Progress on Racial Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

LANSING - The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities released an interim report highlighting the progress made in protecting communities of color from the spread of COVID-19.

At the start of the pandemic, the average number of coronavirus cases in black and African American communities was 176 per million people and just under 22 deaths per million people significantly higher than the number of cases among white people. In September and October, those numbers were significantly lower in black and African American communities at just 59 cases per million people and one death per million people.

The high number of cases among communities of color caused the governor to create the racial disparities task force this spring.

One of the achievements mentioned in the report is that more than 24,000 COVID tests were done in underserved communities in 21 neighborhood testing sites. Another achievement includes the requirement of implicit bias training to over 400,000 health professionals.

Other achievements included declaring racism as a public health crisis as well as COVID-19 case data by race and ethnicity.

“The work is not done,” Lieutenant Governor and Task Force Chair Garlin Gilchrist said. “This report recognizes the many continued challenges that vulnerable communities in our state face and provides direction for even more action.”

Some of the initiatives to address the challenges include closing the digital divide, increasing enrollment in health insurance plans, mobile testing centers as well as being aware of the racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on the health, economic, and educational challenges that communities of color face daily,” Gilchrist said

The report stated that the task force was created under state constitutional powers so the work of the task force was not affected by the state supreme ruling that struck down the governor’s emergency powers but the ruling gives the governors less of an ability to address the disparities.

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