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Gov. Whitmer, Racial Disparities Task Force Release Interim Report Showing Progress in Protecting Communities of Color from the Spread of COVID-19

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, released an interim report detailing the significant progress Michigan has made in protecting communities of color from the spread of COVID-19.

“From the beginning, our administration has listened to medical experts and taken a fact-based approach to eliminating COVID-19 in our most vulnerable communities, and we have seen significant progress,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Lt. Gov. Gilchrist and the leaders on the Task Force have been crucial in helping us dramatically reduce the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in communities of color by expanding testing and providing crucial support to community organizations. Our work is far from over, and cases and hospitalizations are still rising statewide, but this team remains dedicated to working with medical experts and protecting our communities, frontline workers, and small businesses. Our immediate focus now is holding our progress, flattening the infection curve, and remaining vigilant with mask-wearing and social distancing.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on the health, economic, and educational challenges that communities of color face daily,” Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said. “Today’s report shows that significant progress has been made toward our goal to reduce these disparities over the past six months. But as cases continue to rise, we need to recognize that our work is not done because each of us has a role to play to make sure that we defeat this virus. When we successfully make it to the other side of this pandemic, we will hug each other a little tighter, check in on each other a little more, and be proud of the work we did to make each other’s lives better.”

The Task Force’s interim report details a number of actions the state has taken to protect communities of color, frontline workers, and small businesses from the spread of COVID-19. As of Nov. 16, more than 24,000 tests have been administered in previously underserved communities across 21 Neighborhood Testing sites. These state-operated sites provide COVID-19 testing on a consistent schedule, several days per week. All sites offer free testing, and a prescription is not required for someone to be tested, nor is any form of ID required.

From March and April to September and October, the average cases per million per day for African American Michiganders dropped from 176 to 59. In the same period, the number of probable deaths per million per day among African American Michiganders dropped significantly – from 21.7 to 1.

Next Steps For The Task Force

In order to sustain the progress made and to better address ongoing disparities, the Task Force will continue working around the clock to protect our most vulnerable communities. The Task Force has identified a number of areas to focus on as we head into the holiday season and the cold winter months, including:

  • Closing the digital divide in telehealth and virtual learning to ensure equitable access for all Michiganders;
  • Increasing enrollment in health insurance plans by making it easy for Michiganders to find out about their options for affordable care, such as Medicaid and federal marketplace plans;
  • Building mobile testing infrastructure that can also be extended for other health services such as vaccine administration;
  • And raising awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in medical care to ensure that every Michigander, no matter their race, can get safe and quality care in Michigan.

The Task Force has already taken steps to address these issues, and will continue working toward these goals as the State of Michigan continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities consists of a variety of leaders from government, academia, and the private sector, health care, economic development, education, and other disciplines. Click here to learn more about the Task Force.

View the Task Force’s full interim report.