Lt. Gov. Gilchrist tapped for task force investigating COVID-19 death rate among blacks

The African-American community has been hit the hardest in Michigan by COVID-19 and the state is investigating why.

On Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that a task force led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II will make recommendations to address the outbreak’s disproportionate impact on black residents.

African Americans comprise 14 percent of Michigan’s population but at least one-third of cases and 40 percent of deaths. 

“This virus is holding up a mirror to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in our country,” Whitmer said.

Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health, talked about the correlation pattern.

"If people are disproportionately impacted by poverty, working in low wage jobs, unable to work from home, needing to use public transportation, lack the ability to isolate sick individuals in their home appropriately, or disproportionately have more health conditions they will be significantly impacted," she said.

RELATED: Michigan confirms another 117 deaths, 1,158 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

Later on Thursday Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke about the very real racial disparity in health care and praised Whitmer for the task force creation.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist

"What the coronavirus is doing is exacerbating the racial health gap that has existed in this country for a very long time," he said. "I was really pleased today that the governor today established a task force on the racial disparities that are being exposed in this country by COVID-19."