LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave her second update of the week on COVID-19 alongside Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, and Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
The group released the findings from the Racial Disparities Task Force today. Gilchrist, who chairs the task force, said he has lost 24 people in his life to COVID-19.
“That’s 24 empty seats at the dinner table. 24 people who will not have the opportunity to spend another holdiay with their loved ones,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist said the state has made a lot of progress with the Racial Disparities Task Force. When the pandemic first started in Michigan, African Americans accounted for 38 percent of the cases, while African Americans only make up 14 percent of the state’s population. Now, African Americans only account for 9 percent of COVID cases in Michigan.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on the health, economic, and educational challenges that communities of color face daily,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said. “Today’s report shows that significant progress has been made toward our goal to reduce these disparities over the past six months. But as cases continue to rise, we need to recognize that our work is not done because each of us have a role to play to make sure that we defeat this virus.”
Some of the task forces interim findings were as followed:
- From March and April to September and October, the average cases per million per day for African American Michiganders dropped from 176 to 59.
- In the same period, the number of probable deaths per million per day among African American Michiganders dropped significantly from 21.7 to 1.
- As of November 16, more than 24,000 tests were given in previously underserved communities across 21 Neighborhood Testing sites.
“As a member of the Michigan Task Force on Racial Disparities, I am proud of the hard work we have done to protect communities of color from the spread of COVID-19,” said M. Roy Wilson, Task Force Member and president of Wayne State University.
Dr. Khaldun also gave her report on the COVID-19 numbers in the state. She said the numbers continue to go slightly down, but are still alarmingly high.
Dr. Khaldun also shared new information from the CDC regarding quarantine periods. She said new findings show that 99 percent of people show symptoms within 10 days. Based on these numbers, those who have been exposed now only need to quarantine for 10 days instead of 14.
The state of Michigan reported nearly 7,000 new cases yesterday, putting the total number of confirmed cases at 373,197.
The topic of extending the “three-week pause” remained a pressing issue today. When asked if an extension is likely, she did not give a very firm answer but did say an extension of some of the restrictions is possible based on the numbers and the amount of travel they saw for Thanksgiving.
The state also released the next steps for the task force:
- Closing the digital divide in telehealth and virtual learning to create equal access for all Michiganders
- Increasing enrollment in health insurance plans by making it easy for Michiganders to find out about their options for affordable care, such as Medicaid and federal marketplace plans
- Building mobile testing infrastructure that can also be extended for other health services such as vaccine administration
- Raising awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in medical care to ensure that every Michigander, no matter their race, can get safe and quality care in Michigan.
To view the Task Force’s full interim report, click the link below: