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Health experts and elected officials hold press conference to discuss COVID-19 impact on communities of color

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 13:08:44-04

LANSING, Mich. — During a press conference on Thursday hosted by the Lansing Branch of the NAACP and Protect Our Care Michigan, Ingham County elected officials and a public health expert discussed the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

While making up less than 15 percent of the state’s population, 40% of the COVID-19 deaths and nearly 30 percent of confirmed cases nationwide are Black people.

This is what those involved had to say:

“Protect Our Care Michigan was honored to partner with the Lansing Branch of the NAACP to highlight the health care disparities that exist for African Americans and communities of color in Ingham County,” said Dianne Byrum, state director for Protect Our Care Michigan.

“Our mission is to help ensure equality for every person in our community, and that includes equality in health care,” said Dale Copedge, president of the Lansing branch of the NAACP. “The disparities in health care for communities of color that have existed for decades are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s long past time for them to be addressed. Conversations like this, that bring these issues to the forefront of our attention, are a critically important step in the process of bringing about change.”

“Racial disparities in access to health care have long existed in Ingham County and beyond,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “The lack of federal leadership during the COVID-19 crisis has shown us that we need to take action on the state and local levels to ensure all Michiganders have access to the medical care they need to survive, otherwise we will continue to see this global pandemic hit our most vulnerable communities the hardest. That’s why I worked with my Democratic colleagues in the Michigan House of Representatives to introduce legislation to connect all Michiganders with high quality, affordable health care.”

“History has shown illness and death tends to be higher for communities of color during public health emergencies,” said Dr. Renee Canady, chief executive officer of the Michigan Public Health Institute. “The access to coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act is so important. The ACA helped reduce longstanding racial disparities in coverage rates and improved access to health care for communities of color across the board.”

“Black people and other communities of color are disproportionately affected by many health issues, because of implicit bias and access barriers endured when seeking health care and treatment,” said Derrell Slaughter, Ingham County Commissioner. “In June, Ingham County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis which is a first step toward prioritizing the health care needs of Black people and other communities of color. The racial disparities in health care are a problem we as a community can no longer ignore.”

You can watch a full recording of the press conference here.

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