Gov. Cooper signs executive order to address disparities in communities of color impacted by COVID-19

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Executive Order 143 to address disparities in communities of color impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 is shining a light on disparities that have long existed in our health care and economic institutions for communities of color,” said Cooper. “Today’s Executive Order will expand our state’s efforts to help North Carolinians recover from the pandemic and improve access to affordable healthcare and quality economic opportunities in our state.” 

The order creates the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental and Health Equity Task Force to address long-term disparities, the governor said.

The task force will focus on five areas: access to health care; patient engagement in health care settings; economic opportunities in business development and employment; environmental justice and inclusion; and education.

Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders will lead the group.

“As the task force examines long-term opportunities, there are meaningful things we can do right now to lessen disparities. We know that black and minority-owned businesses are often overlooked and under-resourced. Too many of these businesses have been excluded from COVID-19 funds,” Cooper said.

“My order directs the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office to ensure that COVID-19 relief funds are fairly distributed. It also expands the capacity of our North Carolina Historically Underutilized Business Office to provide those businesses access to opportunities and resources.”

The order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services, along with community health centers, local health departments, rural health centers and free and charitable clinics, to provide COVID-19 testing and related health care to uninsured North Carolinians.

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