Gov. Whitmer creates Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities

Posted at 3:08 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2021-03-01 10:55:19-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Monday that created the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

According to new numbers released on Monday afternoon, 40% of the deaths from COVID-19 are African Americans in Michigan, despite African Americans making up 13.6% of the state's population.

The governor's office said that the task force will work in an advisory capacity and study the causes of racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 and recommend actions to address those disparities.

“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 release. “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 investigate the causes of racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19, recommend actions to address those disparities, and suggest ways to:

  • 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.

The task force will also work with community action stakeholder groups on how to engage the community, local governments and health systems.

Gilchrist will chair the task force that will include MDHHS Director Robert Gordon or Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and the following members appointed by the governor.

– Brandi Nicole Basket, D.O., of Clinton Township, is the chief medical officer for Meridian Health Plan Michigan Market.

– Matthew L. Boulton, M.D., of Ann Arbor, is the senior associate dean for Global Public Health and director of the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program at the University of Michigan.

– Renée Branch Canady, Ph.D., of Lansing, is the chief executive officer of the Michigan Public Health Institute.
– Denise Brooks-Williams, of Detroit, is the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Henry Ford Health System North Market.
– Dessa Nicole Cosma, of Detroit, is the executive director of Detroit Disability Power.
– Connie Dang, of Jenison, is the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and special assistant for Inclusive Community Outreach at Grand Valley State University.
– Marijata Daniel-Echols, Ph.D., of Farmington Hills, is the program officer at W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
– Debra Furr-Holden, Ph.D., of Flint, is an epidemiologist, the associate dean for Public Health Integration at Michigan State University, and the director of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions.
– Audrey E. Gregory, Ph.D., of Franklin, is the chief executive officer of the Detroit Medical Center.
– Whitney Griffin, of Detroit, is the director of Marketing and Communications for the Downtown Detroit Partnership.
– Bridget G. Hurd, of Southfield, is the senior director of Diversity and Inclusion at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
– Curtis L. Ivery, Ph.D., of Detroit, is the chancellor of Wayne County Community College District.
– Solomon Kinloch Jr., of Oakland Township, is the senior pastor at Triumph Church in Detroit.
– Jametta Y. Lilly, of Detroit, is the chief executive officer of the Detroit Parent Network.
– Curtis Lipscomb, of Detroit, is the executive director of LGBT Detroit.
– Mona Makki, of Dearborn, is the director of the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center.
– Alycia R. Meriweather, of Detroit, is the deputy superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
– Randolph Rasch, Ph.D., of East Lansing, is a professor and dean of the Michigan State University College of Nursing.
– Celeste Sanchez Lloyd, of Grand Rapids, is the community program manager for Strong Beginnings at Spectrum Health and a fellow in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
– Jamie Paul Stuck, of Scotts, is the Tribal Council chairman and member of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Council.
– Maureen Taylor, of Detroit, is the state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.
– LaChandra White, of Allen Park, is the director of the UAW Civil and Human Rights Department.
– M. Roy Wilson, M.D., of Detroit, is the president of Wayne State University.

The Task Force will continue its work until 90 days after the termination of the declared states of emergency and disaster, or such other time as the Governor identifies.

As of Monday, there were 2,468 deaths and 32,000 cases of coronavirus in the state.

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