MDHHS’ Dr. Joneigh Khaldun named to Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

LANSING, Mich. – Today, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced non-federal members of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, including Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are so proud that Dr. J is joining this national task force,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “She’s an extraordinary public servant who has helped our state navigate the pandemic through her confident leadership and unparalleled expertise. Michiganders are grateful for everything she has and continues to do for us, and we know that the Biden Administration is lucky to have her on board.”

“I am honored to be part of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and to play a part in helping address inequities as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Khaldun. “The virus has had a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable communities, including communities of color. I look forward to making contributions as part of this task force that will ensure that future pandemic responses do not ignore or exacerbate health inequities.”

Khaldun has been the lead strategist advising the state’s COVID-19 response and has held former roles leading work to address disparities as Detroit’s health director and the chief medical officer of Baltimore.

Other members include:

  • Mayra Alvarez of San Diego, CA
  • James Hildreth of Nashville, TN
  • Andrew Imparato of Sacramento, CA
  • Victor Joseph of Tanana, AK
  • Octavio Martinez of New Braunfels, TX
  • Tim Putnam of Batesville, IN
  • Vincent Toranzo of Pembroke Pines, FL
  • Mary Turner of Plymouth, MN
  • Homer Venters of Port Washington, NY
  • Bobby Watts of Goodlettsville, TN
  • Haeyoung Yoon of New York, NY

The 12 task force members represent a diversity of backgrounds and expertise, a range of racial and ethnic groups, and a number of important populations, including: children and youth; educators and students; health care providers, immigrants; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQ+ individuals; public health experts; rural communities; state, local, territorial and Tribal governments; and unions.

The Task Force is charged with issuing a range of recommendations to help inform the COVID-19 response and recovery. This includes recommendations on equitable allocation of COVID-19 resources and relief funds, effective outreach and communication to underserved and minority populations and improving cultural proficiency within the Federal Government.

Additional recommendations include efforts to improve data collection and use, as well as a long-term plan to address data shortfalls regarding communities of color and other underserved populations. The Task Force’s work will conclude after issuing a final report to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator describing the drivers of observed COVID-19 inequities, the potential for ongoing disparities faced by COVID-19 survivors, and actions to ensure that future pandemic responses do not ignore or exacerbate health inequities.

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