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Michigan’s top health official explains increased risk of COVID-19 for Black residents

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun talks about disparities during coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at the state's Sept. 10, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at the state's Sept. 10, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s top health official explained Thursday why Black residents have seen such a disproportionate risk of COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, spoke Thursday during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 briefing.

READ: Governor responds to Michigan restaurants considering defying state order, reopening

Here was her exact response to the question:

So I think when we talk about why we’ve seen these disparities, it’s important to understand that it has nothing to do with skin color,” Khaldun said. “It’s really about exposure and what jobs people are doing and what resources they have.

“So if you think about early in the pandemic, when we said most individuals needed to stay home, there were still essential workers who had to come out of their homes. Maybe they didn’t have a car and they needed to share rides. Maybe they still have to go out to the grocery store and couldn’t have delivery service, or maybe they were frontline workers who sometimes tend to not make as much money, so they had to work at our grocery stores or drive our buses.

“So it’s really about exposure and equity when it comes to why we’ve seen these disparities.”


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