Michigan governor signs order calling racism a public health crisis

Michigan governor signs order calling racism a public health crisis
© getty: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCoronavirus lockdowns work Michigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D) signed an executive order on Wednesday, officially declaring racism a public health crisis.

In an effort to "elevate Black voices," the order also mandates that a state advisory council centered around Black leadership be created. Additionally, Whitmer wants the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to have all state employees complete implicit bias training in an effort to "make health equity a major goal."

“We must confront systemic racism head on so we can create a more equitable and just Michigan," Whitmer said in a statement. "This is not about one party or person. I hope we can continue to work towards building a more inclusive and unbiased state that works for everyone.”

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Michigan isn't the first state to declare racism a public health crisis; Colorado and Wisconsin have done so recently as well. On a more local level, municipalities in 19 states have taken similar steps, including California, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Many of the declarations come after the American Public Health Association (APHA) declared systemic racism a public health crisis at the beginning of June — shortly after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, a Black man.

Floyd's death regalvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and spurred nationwide protests that have been happening for most of the summer.

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Moreover, health experts have found that COVID-19 has affected the U.S.'s communities of color at disproportionate rate.

According to The Detroit News, Black Americans account for roughly 27 percent of the confirmed cases and nearly 40 percent of its deaths, although Michigan is only 14 percent Black overall.

Michigan has 84,050 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,219 deaths.