As the state of Michigan continues its COVID-19 vaccination process, a study from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices found that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Task Force on Racial Disparities has made a lasting impact. According to the study, the task force, which is led by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, has made substantial progress in reducing pandemic-related health-based racial disparities.
The study identified key takeaways that were critical in addressing inequalities in communities of color, including:
- “Establishing clear objectives with specific metrics to assess progress helps with designing and implementing targeted and effective interventions.”
- “Ensuring cross-sectoral collaboration and diversity within the task force helps with designing effective interventions and facilitates community engagement.”
- “Enabling leadership and state leaders who are committed to work and provide the right mix of expertise to minimize staff fatigue and stress.”
- “Developing a sustainable infrastructure is essential to maintain momentum beyond the pandemic to address inequities in health care, service delivery, and outcomes.”
Our administration took swift action to address the pre-existing racial inequities in health that were dangerously exacerbated by the pandemic, and we are proud of the progress we’ve made towards eliminating COVID 19’s disproportionate impact, shared Governor Whitmer.
“I want to thank the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities for their excellent guidance that has led to Michigan becoming an example to the rest of the country in how to fairly fight this pandemic and support vulnerable communities,” she added. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the pandemic and eliminate the virus as quickly as possible so we can return to a strong economy and get back to normal daily activities. I ask that Michiganders continue to follow public health guidance by wearing face masks, socially distancing, and washing your hands as we continue to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.”
Since its creation in April of 2020, the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities was found to have helped to greatly reduce the number of confirmed and probably COVID-19 deaths among people of color in Michigan. At the time of the task force’s creation, Black/African American individuals accounted for 40 percent of call COVID-19 deaths in Michigan, despite making up only 13.6 percent of the population.
The study puts this decline in deaths on a multitude of factors, including, the leadership of the governor and lt governor, mask distribution efforts that saw over six million masks given out, the administering of over 24,000 free COVID-19 tests, and the funding of over 30 community organizations aimed at addressing community needs. These actions, according to the study, have put the state on track for long-term, sustainable reductions in racial health disparities.
“We are incredibly proud of the progress the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities has made in reducing the staggering, disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black folks,” shared Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “While we have come a long way, we are still living in the midst of this pandemic and in the wake of decades of racial injustices that have led to these health disparities. Our administration remains committed to reducing racial disparities of all kinds among our state’s vulnerable populations and continuing to fight this virus.”
On top of creating the task force, the Study also highlights Whitmer’s decision to declare racism a public health crisis, while also helping to form the Black Leadership Advisory Council and the Michigan Poverty Task Force, as other positive factors.
To date, Michigan has so far administered 1,292,572 vaccines and is currently working toward the goal of 50,000 shots per day, as well as the complete vaccination of over 70 percent of Michigander’s ages 16 and older. Check out our additional vaccine resources here and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest on all things Detroit and more.