In her efforts to put herself at the top of Joe Biden’s list of VP candidates, Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been working on making herself famous by imposing the most draconian measures on her citizens of any governor in America.
From demanding that stores in Michigan prohibit the sale of “non-essential items,” like American flags, seeds for Spring gardens and home improvement items like paint or lawn care products, to threatening Michiganders with arrest if they dare to travel to their vacation homes during the coronavirus pandemic—Gretchen Whitmer is unofficially America’s most iron-fisted governor.
Last week, over 15K Michigan residents traveled to Lansing, MI to protest the governor’s draconian lockdown measures. Governor Whitmer’s response was to mock them and threaten that she would likely lock down the state of Michigan for even longer because of their “reckless” actions.
Today, Michigan’s Governor Whitmer held a press conference where she said she would discuss plans to reopen the state. She lied. Whitmer did, however, insult Michigan residents who don’t agree with her draconian actions, saying: “To all the people who have disagreed with the actions I’ve taken or feel their rights are being infringed, we are taking a limited action for a limited amount of time to save people’s lives.” Whitmer mocked Michigan citizens who think she’s gone too far with her restrictions on boating and jet-skiing, “Who among us wants to be that person who unwittingly brings this virus into their household? Who in this great state actually believes that they care more about jet skiing than saving the lives of the elderly or the vulnerable?” she asked.
To add insult to injury, Governor Whitmer sent a stunning letter to all health care workers written by her Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldunis, immediately following her press conference. The letter accused all Michigan health care workers, who are literally putting their lives on the line every day during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic of being racists—even if they don’t know they are. In her letter, Dr. Khaldunis offered suggestions about how racist health care providers can address their “implicit biases.”
The letter begins:
Dear Michigan Clinicians,
Thank you for your tireless efforts to care for Michigan residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Khaldunis explains the disparity of African Americans in Michigan compared to Caucasians:
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has identified alarming racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths. As of April 19, 2020, African American residents comprise 33% of cases and 40% of deaths due to COVID-19 in Michigan, despite comprising only 14% of the state’s population. This is consistent with what has been seen in other states as well. The State of Michigan is actively working to perform a deeper analysis of why these disparities exist. However, based on what we currently know about other health disparities, there are many reasons why we are likely seeing this during the COVID-19 crisis.
We know that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have lower wage jobs and live in poverty compared to Caucasians, and may be more likely to have to work in “critical infrastructure” jobs during the COVID-19 crisis such as in grocery stores, food handling, and public transportation. Lack of access to a car and the need to take public transportation, as well as unstable or crowded housing conditions may mean racial and ethnic minorities are less able to implement CDC-recommended isolation and quarantine practices.
These conditions can result in a lack of access to care. Research has also shown that, once care is accessed, both implicit and explicit bias by healthcare providers contributes to health care disparities. One of the factors associated with implicit bias is how we are socialized. We all have implicit biases and the difficulty is that we don’t realize that we have them – assumptions about individuals and groups can cause medical providers to not use a patient’s individual circumstances or objective data to guide clinical management. Explicit biases include those that are more explicitly racist, that may also not be fully recognized.
The social determinants of health described above, as well as access to care, have consequences as it relates to the development, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Many racial and ethnic minorities have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk for complications from COVID-19. For example, African Americans have higher rates of asthma and diabetes compared to Caucasians, two conditions that have been associated with greater risk of becoming severely ill if infected with COVID-19.v
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, among non-elderly adults, African Americans are more likely to report that they are in fair or poor health compared to their Caucasians. Additionally, racial minorities are more likely to be uninsured, lack a usual source of care, and may forgo testing or treatment due to fears about costs, mistrust of the healthcare system, and a lack of information about available resources.
Dr. Khaldunis blames the racial disparities on what else—slavery.
To be clear, the above challenges are not caused by genetics or race. They are caused by the historical inequities that are an unfortunate part of American history. All clinicians have an important role to play in addressing these disparities, particularly during the most urgent public health crisis of our time.
Dr. Khaldunis explains how health care workers need to take complaints of COVID-19 symptoms seriously, and how testing will be extended to minorities to include “mildly symptomatic individuals.”
- Complaints of symptoms should be taken seriously in any patient, and particularly those from racial and ethnic minority groups. To support this effort, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has expanded testing criteria to include mildly symptomatic individuals, and people working in jobs that have been deemed “essential” during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Furthermore, be aware that implicit bias (unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that impact our thoughts and actions) exists among clinicians and can impact patient outcomes. Be mindful of how implicit bias may be impacting your own clinical practice.
Michigan citizens are prohibited from traveling to their vacation homes to isolate themselves from areas where COVID-19 is most concentrated, but at the end of her letter, Governor Whitmer’s Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldunis suggests ways that health care providers can help minorites to find government-funded, alternative housing arrangements to keep them safe.
You can read the entire document here.
For what it’s worth, Michigan’s new radical Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has a close working relationship with Governor Whitmer recently made news when she blasted white folks for complaining about now being able to golf in Michigan during the lockdown, while Black citizens were dying of COVID-19.
Does anyone see a pattern here?