State Provides Update on Reduction in COVID-19 Racial Disparities, Work Ahead

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Gilchrist recently shared new data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) depicting progress in reducing the disparate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color. The State of Michigan created the Rapid Response Grant program to help local organizations continue to serve as an extension of these efforts.   

Though Black residents only make up 15% of Michigan’s population, they represented a staggering 29.4% of the cases and 40.7% of the deaths in the early days of tracking COVID-19 data based on race. In the past two weeks of available data, the state has seen progress in reducing the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on communities of color, with Black residents accounting for 8.2% of cases and 9.9% of deaths.

View the full MDHHS data here.

The administration took early action through executive orders and the formation of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities to better protect and support the communities of color most impacted by the pandemic. The task force studied the causes of racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 and recommended actions to immediately address these and the underlying historical, systemic inequities.

A press release from the Governor’s office shared actions the task force has taken in collaboration with State Departments like:

  • Distributing large quantities of masks to the public;
  • Launching strategic communications and social media efforts targeting communities of color;
  • Collaborating with regional racial disparity task forces to share data and recommendations for additional actions;
  • Increasing access to coronavirus testing in communities of color through drive-thru, walk-up, and mobile testing sites.

To continue the administration’s efforts to reduce racial disparities, the State created the Rapid Response Grant program, which has awarded 31 grants for a total of nearly $20 million of CARES Act funding to local organizations. The grants must be used to address food and housing insecurity, provide technology and tablets, increase access to testing and flu vaccines, improve contract tracing, provide basic needs, and fund operations.

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