Indiana task force completes pandemic disparity plan

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has new suggestions to consider when it comes to fixing COVID-19 health disparities.

Governor Eric Holcomb created a task force after the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus called for one back in May.

The group’s mission was to come up with a corrective action plan on the disproportionate impact this virus has on minority populations.

Now, it’s time for leaders to decide whether to implement it.

“Some of these can be done by rule and by administration, but some of them will need a legislative change,” said Democratic State Rep. Robin Shackleford.

Holcomb’s office said Monday he is reviewing the suggestions. Some of the task force members haven’t even received the final report yet. The completed version was due June 30.

“So, I don’t know what actually made it into the suggestions,” said State Sen. Jean Breaux. “We just did a lot of green lighting,”

The task force was split into about eight subcommittees. Breaux was on the communication campaign. They focused on funding methods and policies to get important COVID-19 information out to minority groups.

“Not just African Americans, not just Latinos, but there is a Burmese population,” explained Breaux.

She talked about issues with language translations and even concerns from undocumented immigrants that they will get in trouble if they get tested for COVID-19. She said the group is depending on local leaders to get the message out that testing is available to everyone.

State Representative Robin Shackleford served on the underlying conditions group. She said they concentrated on funding food deserts, getting healthy food to minorities and providing permanent testing sites in underserved communities.

“We’ve had drive by’s, we’ve had sites open for a couple of weeks, but we actually need permanent sites for the testing,” explained Shackleford.

As local communities receive these suggestions, these lawmakers also plan to discuss them in legislative summer study committees.

“We’re looking at maybe making housing a health issue, so we will discuss that this summer and look at what more can be done to provide rental assistance more permanently,” explained Shackleford.

Overall, these members said they are proud of the ideas the task force came up with and hope it wasn’t all for nothing.

“Let’s see what they are willing to do with it,” said Breaux.

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