Joneigh Khaldun tapped for Biden administration’s COVID-19 equity taskforce
The Joe Biden administration tapped Dr. Joneigh Khaldun to join the federal COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Khaldun currently serves as the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
The 12-member task force includes top medical officials from all around the country. Their goal is to address disparities in health outcomes across races, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, geography and other factors.
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Michigan is the home of two cities with disproportionately large minority communities. Detroit, the largest city in the state, is 80% Black, making it the blackest city in America. Nearby Dearborn is 30% Arab-American, giving it the highest Arab population of any place in the country.
Khaldun also previously served as Baltimore’s Chief Medical Officer. Almost two-thirds of Baltimore’s population is Black.
Khaldun helped lead Michigan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and focused her work on addressing racial disparities in the state. Black Michiganders made up around 40% of the state’s total deaths at one point in the pandemic despite only accounting for 13% of the population.
Black people across the country have been more likely to contract COVID-19 than their white peers. When they do, they are also more likely to be hospitalized and die of the virus. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than their white counterparts.
Khaldun recognizes the disparities in a statement:
“The virus has had a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable communities, including communities of color. I look forward to making contributions as part of this task force that will ensure that future pandemic responses do not ignore or exacerbate health inequities.”
The task force will help inform the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response. They will ensure relief funds, outreach and communication is made with generally underserved communities.