LANSING, Mich. — A recent study by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices found that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities has made “significant” progress toward reducing health-based racial disparities associated with the pandemic.
The study also recommended that the lessons learned from the task force “can be applied in states and territories across the nation to address this longstanding and difficult challenge,” according to a news release Tuesday.
“Our administration took swift action to address the pre-existing racial inequities in health that were dangerously exacerbated by the pandemic, and we are proud of the progress we’ve made towards eliminating COVID-19's disproportionate impact,” Whitmer said.
Although African Americans represent 13.6% of Michigan’s population, during the early stages of the pandemic they represented 40% of all COVID-19 deaths.
Whitmer created the task force – led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist – to serve in an advisory capacity to the governor and recommend actions to address these racial disparities and the contributing historic and societal inequalities.
“While we have come a long way, we are still living in the midst of this pandemic and in the wake of decades of racial injustices that have led to these health disparities,” Gilchrist said. “Our administration remains committed to reducing racial disparities of all kinds among our state’s vulnerable populations and continuing to fight this virus.”
The study found that the task force substantially reduced the number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths among Michiganders of color.
Whitmer’s administration also declared racism a public health crisis last year, distributed more than six million free masks and administered more than 24,000 free COVID-19 tests in underserved communities.
The Black Leadership Advisory Council and the Michigan Poverty Task Force also serve in an advisory capacity to the governor.
Read the full study results here.