Whitmer announces new push for implicit-bias training in health professions

July 09, 2020, 6:08 AM

With Covid-19 cases rising again, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called a news conference today to urge residents to "mask up," particularly younger people, whose case numbers are rising sharply. 

Gretchen Whitmer, masked (Photo: State of Michigan)

But the bulk of the event was about Whitmer's latest executive directive, which will make implicit-bias training part of the requirement for licensure, registration and renewal of licenses for Michigan health professionals.

Implicit-bias training was a recommendation of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, formed to examine the disproportionate impact the disease has had on communities of color. 

The training will help doctors, nurses and others better practitioners, Whitmer and others said. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and various experts addressed how unconscious attitudes held by these professionals can make patients of color more likely to be poorly treated, including for Covid-19. The novel coronavirus has killed Black and brown people far out of proportion to their share of the population.

"I've lost 23 people in my life to this virus," said Gilchrist, who is Black. 

Whitmer reminded viewers that it is currently state law for anyone in an enclosed building to wear a mask, and encouraged residents to put spread the word in person and on social media. 

"If we let our guard down, could see a rapid increase in cases and deaths," Whitmer said. 

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