Now, almost two years after the pandemic began, these differences have almost disappeared, and blacks now make up 18 percent of all deaths from COVID-19. This is still higher than their composition in the state, but it is twice less than in the early days of the pandemic.
According to Fr. a new report from the nationwide task force created to address racial disparities, state and local leaders worked with health professionals to change behavior to help protect entire communities.
“We felt we had no choice but to act,” Lieutenant Garlin Gilchrist told a news conference on Friday to announce the report and its results. Gilchrist, who led the task force, said he lost 27 family members and friends because of COVID-19.
“Families in Michigan lost brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, cousins, teachers, students and grandparents. And colored communities can’t wait for us. “
Gilchrist and others said the task force was focused on encouraging people in the early stages of the pandemic – long before vaccinations – to wear masks and social distance. They specifically approached people with open professions, such as public transport workers, who had to work in person and often met face to face with dozens of people a day.
Thomas Stallworth, a senior adviser to Governor Gretchen Whitmer who led the task force, said the state had spoken to employers and explained the importance of camouflage and other preventative measures for the benefit of its employees.
“They had to take action to protect their people, and they did,” Stallworth said.
These efforts seemed to work. A poll conducted by the state in 2020 found that African Americans are much more likely to wear masks. The poll found that 81 percent “always” wore them, compared to 69 percent of everyone else, the report said.
These changes may have helped change the arc of the pandemic: by August 2020, blacks accounted for 39.2 percent of deaths from COVID-19, according to COVID-19 demographic data from Bridge State, Michigan. Since then, their share has been 13.9 percent – almost equal to their share in the state.
And this despite the fact that blacks have the lowest vaccination rate in the state. While 53 percent of whites have completed vaccinations, 40 percent of blacks are fully vaccinated, according to the state. More than 80 percent of deaths from COVID-19 since January 1, 2021 are unvaccinated.
Stallworth said the task force continues to work to improve vaccination among minorities who have referred to distrust of medicine among many reasons.
In addition to noting the steps already taken – such as promoting masks and vaccines and helping more people contact doctors – the task force also made recommendations that will continue to improve the health prospects of colored communities.