Local task force formed for racial equity in Covid-19 response

FLINT, Michigan—Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) convened its first Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce of Racial Disparities Monday, April 27. The task force was created with goals of supporting black and brown communities through the disproportionate consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.


The local task force was announced just a few days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed a state racial disparities task force chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. The two task forces share a member, Debra Furr Holden, a C.S. Mott endowed professor of public health with Michigan State University.


“There probably are some clear similarities to what’s happening at the state from a policy and law-making perspective and what’s happening at the local level from an intervention perspective,” said CFGF President, CEO, and Chair of the task force, Isaiah Oliver during a Facebook Live interview with Flintside Thursday, April 24. “There is clearly overlap, but we would be irresponsible as a local community to not take this on when you see the numbers in Genesee County.”


Watch our Facebook Live interview with Oliver below.


According to the Genesee County Health Department, black Genesee County residents make up 44 percent of Covid-19 cases and 48 percent of Covid-19 deaths. Currently, Flint leads in the number of overall cases with a reported 593 Covid-19 cases out of the total 1,483 Covid-19 cases in the county.


The general objectives of the task force is to identify 18 to 24 month’s worth of planning leading up to the release of the Covid-19 vaccine; tackle “equitable access” to Covid-19 testing and treatment; develop a strategy for economic revitalization; and the development of policy and insight recommendations for municipal, business, and philanthropic organizations.


“The primary goal is to provide access and protection for those (vulnerable) populations, but long-term we need to be thoughtful around an equitable restart to the economy post-Covid…,” said Oliver


The task force itself is backed by a partnership between CFGF, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Michigan State University Division of Publish Health, the City of Flint, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Community Health Network, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.


The 25 task force members include:


Adrian Walker, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce

Aurora Sauceda, Latinos United

Brian Larkin, City of Flint, Mayors Office

Carma Lewis, Flint Neighborhoods United

Christopher Burtley, Nat Burtley Leadership and Racial Equity Fund

Clarence Pierce, Hamilton Family Health Network

Daniel Moore, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church

Debra Furr Holden, Michigan State University, Division of Public Health

Egypt Otis, Black Women’s Roundtable

Ella Green-Moton, Community Based Organization Partners, Community Ethics Review Board

Philip Schmitter, Christ the King Catholic Church

Isaiah M. Oliver, Taskforce Chair

Jim Buterakos, Hurley Medical Center

Kent Key, Flint Public Health Youth Academy

Kimberly Roberson, Charles Steward Mott Foundation

Kirk Smith, Greater Flint Health Coalition

Lawrence, Reynolds, City of FLint

Leanne Panduren, CFGF Ex-officio

Lina Pohly, Esq, Private Firm

Nayyirah Shariff, Flint Rising

Monica Villareal, Salem Lutheran Church & Michigan United

Raquel Thueme, Ruth Mott Foundation

Tom Mattiuzzo, Riverside Tabernacle Assembly of God

Robert Brown, Neighborhoods Without Borders

Tim Herman, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce


Oliver hopes that by putting together from different public health, municipal, business, faith, neighborhood, and philanthropic communities, the specifics of “equitable” Covid-19 response will make themselves evident over time.


“Until we get into a Zoom meeting together, it’s going to be really hard to figure out what our individual roles are,” said Oliver.


It’s still early in the framework and ongoing developments will be expected throughout the process.


“Most of the information in the interventions will come from pulling folks together, that task force coming together, and wrestling through our challenges, and how we respond to those challenges,” said Oliver.


For now, there hasn’t been any discussion of making the task force meetings public, however, there will be future opportunities for wider participation through the development of subcommittees said Oliver. For more information, questions, or concerns email Community Engagement Officer, Lynn Williams at [email protected].

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Read more articles by Xandr Brown.