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Kentucky governor vows to end inequality in healthcare, police

June 9 (UPI) -- Amid nationwide protests against police brutality, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear launched a new plan to reduce racial inequality in the state, including initiatives to provide healthcare to all black residents and to strengthen police training.

"This is just the first commitment in making up for the inequality that [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,] said was one of the most severe: inequality in healthcare," Beshear said. "We're going to be putting dollars behind it, we're going to have a multifaceted campaign to do it. It is time, especially during COVID-19."

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Beshear explained during a daily briefing on Monday that the goal is to have 100 percent of the state's black community enrolled in health insurance, whether that be Medicaid, Medicare or some sort of comparable coverage.

Issues of access, quality and other societal concerns that impact the health of the black community will still exist, but what the state can do right now, he said, is put forward efforts to get everyone covered.

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Early April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said statistics show that black people disproportionately suffer worst outcomes from the coronavirus.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said COVID-19 is exasperating the existing "health disparity" affecting minority groups.

Members of the black community, he said, suffer disproportionately from underlying health conditions, which puts them at greater risk of the coronavirus.

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In Kentucky, members of the black community account for 15.44 percent of all recorded COVID-19 infections and 16.44 percent of all deaths linked to the pandemic despite making up only 8.4 percent of the state's population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As of afternoon Monday, there were 11,476 cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, resulting in 472, Kentucky Public Health said in an update.

Along with the healthcare initiative, J. Michael Brown, secretary for the Governor's Executive Cabinet, announced that the Justice Department is reviewing and assessing its police training curriculum due to nationwide protests against police brutality.

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The review consists of examining police training procedures with a plan to develop an eight-hour online training course that will cover implicit bias, use of force, deadly force, civil rights laws, emotional intelligence, community relationships and firearm deployment.

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"Kentucky has one of the highest requirements in the country for officer training, and it has served us very well," Brown said. "We are committed to providing at least eight hours of in-service training to all of our officers by the end of the calendar year focused on specific and timely topics."

Protests throughout the United States erupted following the death of George Floyd late last month. Floyd, a black man, died while being arrested by a white police officer. Video of the incident shows former officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into the back of the neck of a prostrate and handcuffed Floyd for more than eight minutes.

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