Indiana moves forward with a health disparities task force

Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana is creating a COVID-19 Health Disparities Task Force to address the root causes of why some groups of people– like the African American community– are more impacted by the virus than others.

Its goal is to create a corrective action plan by the end of June.

African Americans make up 9.8 percent of Indiana’s population but about 15 percent of COVID-19 cases.

“This is a very systemic problem,” said Democratic State Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis. She was selected as a member of the task force meant to address COVID-19 health disparities and come up with a plan to help the state’s prison population combat the virus.

However, she said she has some concerns.

“One is the June 30 deadline and will we be meeting frequently enough to really come up with something that is comprehensive that is in-depth by June 30?” said Breaux.

She’s also concerned about what would happen if they did come up with a comprehensive plan to help. Her fear is that the recommendations won’t be put into action.

“That nothing happens with them. That they don’t get the funding that they need,” explained Breaux.

She wants to fight for more zip code-related COVID-19 data. Breaux thinks that information will help determine where to put more testing and other COVID-19 resources.

“It needs to be looked at in conjunction with access to transportation in conjunction with how do we make it an affordable proposition for those folks to come in,” said Breaux.

Ogbonnaya Omenka teaches about health disparities at Butler University. He said in order for this task force to work, they have to include insight from people living in impacted communities.

“If you are looking to do contact tracing, the way the questions, for example, are asked in different jurisdictions may not be the same,” explained Omenka.

Breaux agreed. It can’t be a one size fits all, she said.

“You’ve got to tailor specifically your questions, specifically your understanding of the answers, how to read between the lines in some of those answers.”

Senator Breaux hopes to bring these concerns to the table at the task force’s first meeting on May 18th. She hopes they don’t stop after the June deadline.

“The task force will make the recommendations and then they will bring those to hopefully the summer study committee in which we can then determine which of those recommendations need to be part of our policy.”

Senator Breaux said she has yet to receive a list of everyone on the health disparities task force.

We have requested one as well but have yet to hear back.

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