Spartan helmet

State of Health is a series of articles about how Michigan communities are rising to address health challenges. State task force leads the way on reducing COVID-19 racial disparities. "It's pretty clear that the number of things we've been doing as a task force are making a difference in the outcomes," said Renee Canady. 

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Flint sign

There is still much work to do to slow the spread of COVID-19 and eventually roll out a vaccine, but Dr. Debra Furr-Holden believes this one crucial step in eliminating the disparity in Flint means there is hope. African Americans are 60-percent of the population in Flint, in March they accounted for more than 85-percent of positive COVID-19 cases and 91-percent of the COVID-19 deaths. "We’ve made transformative strides also in eliminating racial disparities," Furr-Holden said.

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Dr. Todd Lucas

Dr. Todd Lucas, a team of Michigan State University researchers, and their partners are leading a $1.2M NIH study with a pair of formidable goals: communicating effectively about the value of COVID-19 antibody testing and better understanding why COVID-19 causes a large number of African Americans to suffer severe cases and deaths. The project is part of the NIH Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19 initiative.

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Family wearing masks

Nationwide, Black people have been dying from COVID-19 at around 2.1 times the rate of white people. The pandemic has exposed deeply rooted disparities across the healthcare system. In this Johnson & Johnson article and video, Dr. Debra Furr-Holden shares her personal difficulty to obtain a COVID-19 test when she began to have symptoms of COVID-19. 

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Vaccine delivery

African American leaders in New York have started a task force to deliver a safe and readily available coronavirus vaccine to Black communities. Understanding the apprehension around the vaccine within the community, these leaders are also ready to address any concerns people might have over safety and efficacy. Dr. Debra Furr-Holden of MSU's Division of Public Health is among this task force of Black leaders. 

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Flint water crisis

Dr. Debra Furr-Holden discusses what she calls “one of the biggest acts of environmental racism in my lifetime” and why similar disparities are now being seen during the coronavirus pandemic with NBCLX. "We've seen during COVID that the disparities that already existed have amplified...often the people who have been marginalized get the first blame, but we know that's not the case." 

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Michigan and mask

State leaders are crediting the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities with helping lower the percentage of African Americans who contracted the virus. Dr. Debra Furr-Holden, a member of the coronavirus task force, said the average cases and deaths for African Americans dropped tremendously in September and October compared to March and April. "We’ve learned a lot from what’s been happening at the state and what we do in our local task force,” Furr-Holden said.

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Flint

Data shows COVID-19 is no longer disproportionately affecting Black people in Flint or elsewhere across the state, according to Dr. Debra Furr-Holden. Although cases county and statewide are trending downward - it’s not the time to let your guard down.
“My request is people stay the course. We are not out of the woods, but if we continue the way we have gone.. we will be," said Dr. Furr-Holden. 

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Spartan helmet

Opioid-related deaths are up 22 percent according to Sparrow Hospital’s 2020 annual drug report. “With the onset of COVID-19, I think what happened is a lot of the gaps and cracks in our system of care were exposed,” said Dr. Debra Furr-Holden. "The sad thing is: we were trending in the right direction before the pandemic set things back." 

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Dr. Debra Furr-Holden

On Tuesday, the White House invited community groups to join a Vaccination Month of Action. Dr. Debra Furr-Holden appeared on the WNYC radio show, The Takeaway, where she discussed the push for vaccinations, the racial disparities among COVID-19 cases, and investing in communities of color beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Flint Kids 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has made the 2021 State of Flint Kids Report more important because it worsened already existing disparities, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shares with ABC12 News. Flint Kids are behind on immunizations and they’re behind on just regular developmental screenings and lead screenings and all the really important things that we do that are part of well visits.

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