New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that his wife, Chirlane McCray, will co-chair a task force that focuses on the racial disparities that have been highlighted by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
McCray and Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson will lead the group, which will include several officials from de Blasio’s administration to create better engagement with the most deeply affected communities in the city, monitor response and recovery, identify the needs of minority and women-owned businesses and health care providers in the community, according to a statement on the mayor’s website.
"We're seeing a really disturbing disparity where people of African descent are being hit very hard by this disease, disproportionately hard," De Blasio said on the New York Amsterdam News podcast. "And it goes back to a lot of things we all know too well, it goes back to massive disparities in health care predating this crisis."
African Americans comprise 28 percent of COVID-19 deaths in New York City although they make up 22 percent of the population, according to WABC-TV. The city’s poorest neighborhoods, particularly ethnic enclaves in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn boroughs are suffering most and are more highly populated with people who work low-wage jobs and are unable to stay at home during the pandemic.
The city itself has reported 158,000 cases with more than 11,000 deaths, according to data from The New York Times.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that he was glad de Blasio created the task force, but said that the focus should be on long term solutions that will benefit communities that have suffered disparities in health care historically.
“The primary function of this task force cannot be to engage in a long, protracted process of deliberation and study, dwelling on how we got here,” Williams said in a statement. “We know this disparity was created by a long history of systemic inequities and injustices. Additional delays waste time that the people being devastated by this crisis-- those who are deemed essential but treated as expendable-- just don't have. Ultimately, we need results, not a report, and the work of this task force must have a voice in and be supported by the city's budget.”
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Photo Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images
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