RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday unveiled a state commission and other initiatives to address socioeconomic and health disparities for African Americans and Latinos in North Carolina underscored since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through an executive order, Cooper announced the formation of a task force led by state Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders.
It could work up to two years to collect information and identify solutions to health access issues, economic opportunities for minority-owned business, education and environmental justice.
Black residents are 22% of North Carolina’s population, but they have accounted for 30% of positive COVID-19 cases where the individual’s race is known and 34% of the deaths, according to Cooper’s office. There’s a starker disparity the overall Hispanic population and percentage of cases involving community members, the governor said.
“These statistics are alarming and they’re not acceptable,” Cooper said at a media briefing. “This virus is exploiting these inequalities. It’s up to us to do something about it.”
Sanders said the task force “must look to provide alternative solutions to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and other economic, health and equity issues on vulnerable populations.”