Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday declared racism a public health crisis, citing the disproportionate toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the state's minority communities.
An executive order issued by the Democratic governor calls on the state's health department to make health equity a priority and establishes mandatory implicit bias training for all state employees.
"The pandemic has confirmed and highlighted the deadly nature of these pre-existing inequalities caused by systemic racism," Whitmer told reporters.
Michigan health officials say the rate of reported cases for Black residents is more than three times higher than for White residents at 14,703 per million, while the death rate is four times higher at 1,630 per million.
"This reflects long standing, deep societal economic and environmental disparities," Whitmer said.
Along with the order recognizing racism as a public health crisis, Whitmer also signed a measure creating a Black Leadership Advisory Council, designed to advise the governor on developing policies and actions meant to "eradicate and prevent discrimination and racial inequity in Michigan."