Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order on Monday creating an advisory task force meant to help address how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately infected and killed Black and brown Americans.
The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities is expected to study and investigate the causes of the disproportionate effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and recommend immediate actions to address the disparities and the systemic racial inequities behind them. The executive order cited data showing Black residents make up a staggering 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan despite representing 13.6% of the state’s population.
“The deep inequities people in communities of color face, like basic lack of access to health care or transportation or protections in the workplace, have made them more susceptible to COVID-19,” Whitmer said at a news conference Monday. “We’ve seen heartbreaking stories come out of Detroit. Many who have lost their parents, and children, and friends and neighbors. Michiganders need leaders who are going to do everything they can to lower their risk of catching this virus, no matter their community, their race or socioeconomic status.”
#COVID19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color, so we’re taking action. The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, chaired by @LtGovGilchrist, will identify actions we can take to ensure all Michiganders have access to critical care and resources.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) April 20, 2020
The task force will be led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and include a diversity of health experts and community leaders. Gilchrist, who has lost 15 people in his life to COVID-19, said Monday that the task force’s work will be dedicated to Skylar Herbert, a 5-year-old girl who died Sunday of complications from the virus. Skylar is the youngest person in Michigan so far to die of COVID-19.
“Skylar’s family lives in the 48219 ZIP code, which is the second-most impacted ZIP code with 559 positive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday,” the lieutenant governor said. “It’s a predominantly Black neighborhood. She is the daughter of two first responders in the city of Detroit. After she was admitted to the hospital, she then developed a rare complication that led to swelling of her brain and a lesion in her frontal lobe.
“Her story cuts right to the core of why we must act now, why it’s important to follow the orders and maintain social distancing. My condolences, my prayers go to Skylar’s family. And this task force will serve in her memory to ensure that we can limit the exposure for as many people, as many families as possible.”
SHE HAS A NAME: Skylar Herbert, the daughter of Detroit first responders, is the first child with COVID-19 to die in Michigan. She was five years old. pic.twitter.com/rkBbbG8FIg— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) April 20, 2020