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State leaders say progress has been made in racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes

Posted at 8:39 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 20:39:38-04

State leaders say Michigan is making progress with improving COVID-19 outcomes in minority communities. In the last two weeks alone, the death rates among African Americans have gotten significantly better.

“I’m very upset, I don’t want anybody to get it,” said Monica Payne, a healthcare worker who barely survived the coronavirus.

Payne says she spent 9 days on a ventilator back in March, and she wants to know why this virus is hurting so many people in the African American Community.

“It’s bad, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19,” Payne told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

Payne says she still battles neuropathy in her feet and the psychological aftermath of nearly dying.

Payne says the loss hit home when she attended the Detroit Memorial Day on Belle Isle last month.

“To actually see the physical pictures, of all the individuals that passed away that were African American was very disheartening,” said Payne.

African American residents make up 15% of Michigan’s population. But at the start of the pandemic, African Americans represented 29.4% of the coronavirus cases and 40.7% of the deaths.

Now the Governor and the Lt. Governor say their Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparity is seeing an improvement in those numbers.

In the last two weeks, African American residents accounted for just 8.2% of the cases, and 9.9% of the deaths.

“Connecting people with doctors and getting more people tested quickly with pop-ups and mobile testing and drive through testing, we’ve been able to get ahead of this, because of that focus as a state,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

State officials say the numbers are also improving because the state has given out masks to the public, launched a social media campaign, and created the Rapid Response Grant program to help with contact tracing and other needs at local organizations.

But even though the death rates are getting better, survivors like Payne say, do not let down your guard.

“My message to any and everybody of all races is to please just wear your mask,” said Payne.

Meanwhile, Detroit’s regional COVID-19 testing facility is moving from the State Fairgrounds to a new location starting Tuesday. The move will allow testing to take place indoors as the weather gets cooler.

The new location is the Joseph Walker Williams Community Center located at 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd in Detroit. To schedule an appointment for the free testing call 313-230-0505.