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Michigan forms task force to tackle racial disparities in coronavirus (COVID-19) death rates

African Americans make up 40% of COVID-19 deaths

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – In Michigan, African Americans make up 40 percent of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths but account for only 14 percent of the state’s population.

The state has put together a task force to better understand why and determine what can be done to help.

RELATED: Why is coronavirus (COVID-19) death rate so high for African Americans?

“I mean, the truth is black people make up 14 percent of the population in the state of Michigan, and thus far have made up 40 percent of the deaths,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

Gilchrist said those numbers are hard to digest, but they’re the facts. That’s why he’s leading up a task force to address the issue.

“This task force is going to come together -- going to pull from different sectors from public health, medical professionals, faith leaders, community leaders lawmakers, we’re going to come together to have some quick interventions to respond to the pandemic,” Gilchrist said.

Coronavirus is hitting Michigan residents hard, especially the African American community. Gilchrist said it’s worse in Detroit because the Motor City is the most densely populated part of the state.

“Speaking with you from the city of Detroit, where we’ve had more cases and we’ve had more people pass away. I myself have unfortunately lost 15 people in my life to COVID-19 and have several other friends and family members who have been hospitalized or who have tested positive and who are on the road to recovery,” Gilchrist said.

What’s happening in Detroit is catching the attention of the United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams. He talked about the issue during a national news conference.

“But let me be crystal clear, we don’t think people of color are biologically or genetically predisposed to get COVID-19. There’s nothing inherently wrong with you. But they are socially predisposed of coronavirus exposure and have higher incidents of the very diseases that put you at risk for complications from the coronavirus,” Adams said.

MORE: New Era Detroit helps African American communities hit by COVID-19


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