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Lt. Governor Gilchrist Recognizes One-Year Anniversary of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities; Launches 'Making Real Change' Tour

April 22, 2021

Lt. Governor Gilchrist Recognizes One-Year Anniversary of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities; Launches 'Making Real Change' Tour

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, along with the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force members on Racial Disparities, recognized the first anniversary of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. To date, the task force has made significant progress towards reducing COVID-19 mortality rate disparities for Michiganders of color. The Task Force members recognize that their work must continue to address the racial disparities in vaccine adoption in communities of color. Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist is launching the 'Making Real Change' Tour across Michigan to ensure that work continues and allows for direct community interactions.

"Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this virus has shined a light on the unique health, economic, and educational challenges Black communities and communities of color face daily. When Governor Whitmer and I observed how deadly these deadly trends presented themselves during COVID-19, we took immediate action to protect public health," said Lt. Governor Gilchrist. "With cases rising in communities across our state, it is more important than ever that we continue the work of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The Making Real Change Tour will highlight his task-force-recommended actions being implemented and adapted, helping Michiganders. This task force will continue to focus on making real, timely changes that will make a difference in people's lives right now."

The 'Making Real Change' Tour will highlight our continued efforts to flatten and eliminate racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on what we have learned, why and how we are applying those learnings to equitably administering vaccines; and what we are doing to build the resilience required to close racial disparities in health and other areas within communities. 

For example, while Black residents only make up 13% of Michigan's population, they represented a staggering 29.4% of the cases in the early days of tracking COVID-19 data based on race. In the past two weeks of available data, the state has maintained progress in limiting the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, with Black residents accounting for 10.9% of cases.

"I am incredibly proud of what this task force has accomplished, but we have more work ahead of us as we continue to combat COVID-19 and work towards our goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible," said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun. "Our task force recognizes that vaccine hesitancy is present here in Michigan, which is why we will continue to be present within communities, ensure that everyone who has a question can get answers. Our work is just beginning when it comes to addressing racial disparities across our state, but we are committed to taking real actions, being present, and making real change." 

The Making Real Change Tour will make stops in Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

To date, the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force has focused on two goals: one to reduce the disparities in the mortality rate of COVID-19, and the second to connect those interventions to more extended term efforts. Additionally, this task force has worked to close the digital divide in telehealth and remote learning, launched a "Get Covered" campaign to make a coordinated push for every Michigander to sign up for health insurance, increased mobile testing infrastructure, which has transitioned seamlessly into vaccine administration and provided guidance to health care professionals on avoiding implicit bias.

The task force was created per Executive Order 2020-55, and acts in an advisory capacity to Governor Whitmer. It studies the causes of racial disparities and recommends actions to address the historical and systemic inequities.