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Statement from the Michigan Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) on COVID-19 Protocols and Vaccine Hesitancy in the Black Community

Statement via the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

Black Americans are once again facing a challenge that affects us more than other communities – the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 numbers rise in Michigan, and more so in Black communities, now more than ever, we must work to keep ourselves and our families safe. That means we must mask up, practice social distancing, and get tested regularly, especially if we have been around large groups of people.

But the Black Leadership Advisory Council also urges all Black Michiganders to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

Not only are COVID-19 cases up, but deaths are rising as well. We have already lost too many loved ones to not take this pandemic seriously. We must be part of the solution before we return to the early days of the pandemic when it was ravaging our communities.

Vaccinations are one of the most powerful public health interventions we have to help end the pandemic and allow us to return to a sense of normalcy. The FDA and CDC have determined that COVID-19 vaccines are effective and may be the only way to prevent the spread of the virus and to lessen its effects. We know that fears that some residents have about taking the vaccine are valid and rooted in history and fact. But researchers did not begin trying to find a vaccine this year. They adapted existing research to fight the pandemic. The vaccines are working.

And as new variants of COVID-19 appear, it is clear that the research will continue. Meanwhile, the more individuals get vaccinated and join the immunity community, the faster we can all return to what we once considered normal.

We urge all Black Michiganders to join the fight against this deadly virus. Please stand up, show up and help us work together to ensure that our community does not continue to be adversely affected by COVID-19.

COVID-19 survivor and BLAC Community Safety & Justice Committee Chair Teferi Brent said it best:

“I would rather for you to mask it than to end up in a casket,” said Brent, a longtime community leader who is encouraging black Michiganders to observe COVID-19 safety protocols. “Six feet away is better than six feet under. We must make community safety a top priority! Following the CDC guidelines is a critical aspect of community safety.”

We must do this by us, for us – for our community.

Rochelle Riley, Detroit – Co-Chair
Robert Womack, Grand Rapids – Co-Chair
James E. Atterberry, Sr., Benton Harbor
Donna L. Bell, Ph.D., Southfield
Christopher Burtley, Flint
Jerry L. Clayton, Sr., Ypsilanti
Kelli A. Ellsworth Etchison, East Lansing
Justin N. Onwenu, Detroit
Kelsey Perdue, Grand Rapids
Kathy Purnell, Ph.D., Kalamazoo
Theresa Roach, Flint
Michelle Sourie Robinson, West Bloomfield
Joel Rutherford, Warren
Michele Samuels, Farmington Hills
Seydi Sarr, Detroit
Kim Trent, Detroit
Carl M. Williams, Saginaw

Committee Chairs

  • Teferi Brent, Community Safety and Justice Committee
  • Karen S. Carter, Business Leadership Committee
  • Alexis Sims Dye, Health Committee
  • Terrence D.Martin, Education Committee

Vaccine distribution and resources

Vaccine distribution data

To view the total distribution of vaccines and more vaccine information, visit michigan.gov/covidvaccine.

Additional vaccine resources

Where the state stands with COVID-19

Michigan overall COVID-19 case dataMichigan COVID-19 cases by raceMichigan COVID-19 deaths by race

View the original press release.


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