DeWine creates equity advisory group to improve minority health, economic outcomes

A new advisory group created as a result of 34 recommendations from a minority health strike force report will work to dismantle racism by in part improving public health outcomes, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

DeWine created the minority health strike force in April when it was discovered that COVID-19 disproportionately affected minority communities across the state. The group’s final report was released Thursday, Aug. 13.

“We have an obligation to look at these racial disparities and say, ‘That is not right,’ ” he said. “It is incumbent on all of us to do that.”

In Ohio, Black men and women make up 25% of all positive COVID-19 cases and 32% of hospitalizations even though they represent only 14% of the state’s population. Life expectancy among Black men and women is four years below that of their white counterparts, and Black children are three times more likely to live in poverty than white children, DeWine said.

As a result of the group’s report, the governor’s office released “Ohio’s Executive Response: A Plan of Action to Advance Equity” as a guide for his administration to “lay out a plan” to deal with racial inequities and created the Equity Advisory Board.

“This is my action plan to reinforce our commitment to advancing health equity and establishing Ohio as a model for justice, equity opportunity and resilience,” DeWine said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted stressed the importance of minority business development and pointed to the 700 applications received by the state for its new Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program, which provides $10,000 in funding for minority and women-owned business hit by the pandemic.

During questioning by reporters, DeWine said a final decision on high school sports would come as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 18, as some colleges, including the Big Ten, announced they would delay or cancel fall sports programs and with reporting that 10% to 13% of COVID-19 positive Ohio State University athletes showed mild cardiac impact.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association, which recommended that the football season be shortened to a six-game season with championship games played no later than Nov. 21, is awaiting the final word from the governor’s office.

The Aug. 13 report from the Ohio Department of Health indicates the state has 99,856 confirmed and 5,570 probable cases of COVID-19, for a total of 105,426. That’s an increase day-over-day of 1,178 new cases. Of those, 12,023 people have been hospitalized (increase of 122) and 2,743 of them in intensive care (increase of 22). There have been 3,481 confirmed deaths in Ohio and 274 probable related deaths, for a total of 3,755 fatalities in the state (increase of 21).

The state has tested a total of 1,747,737 people, and 24,573 were tested on Aug. 11, representing a 5.6% positivity rate. Twelve of Ohio’s 88 counties are designated red level 3, which indicates a high risk of coronavirus spread of more than 100 cases per 100,000 in population, including Cuyahoga County.

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