Gov. Cooper establishes task force to address COVID-19 disparities in underserved communities

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper introduced a new executive order to address the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on underserved communities

During a Thursday afternoon news conference, Cooper announced Executive Order 143, which established the creation of the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental and Health Equity Task Force, headed by Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders.

The Task Force's goal is to create economic stability, eliminate health disparities, and achieve environmental justice in the state:
  • Access to health care for underserved communities
  • Enhanced patient engagement in healthcare settings
  • Economic opportunities in business development and employment
  • Environmental Justice and Inclusion
  • Create educational opportunities for communities of color

"Secretary Sanders is a strong leader, an accomplished businesswoman, and a fierce advocate for all North Carolinians. I am excited she is going to take this on," Cooper said.

RELATED: Andrea Harris, minority economic development trailblazer and The Institute co-founder, dies

Black Americans and Hispanics make up a higher percentage of the state's coronavirus cases than their percentage of the population. Black Americans make up 22 percent of the state's population but account for 30 percent of COVID-19 patients and 34 percent of deaths as of June 1.

"This virus is exploiting those inequalities, and it's up to us to do something about it," Cooper said.

RELATED: The Racial Divide: How minorities are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in NC

"My administration is committed to eliminating disparities," Cooper said. "We will keep listening. We will continue to work with communities all across our state to address systemic injustice."

The task force was named in rememberance of Andrea Harris, who died May 20.
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