Trenton – To assess the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on minority communities, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham which would establish the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Task Force on Racial and Health Disparities.
“In the last seven months, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected minorities throughout the United States,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Predominantly Black counties account for only 30 percent of the U.S. population, and yet they were the location of 56 percent of COVID-19 deaths. In order to effectively help these communities, we must understand why the pandemic is hitting them so hard and come up with successful and long-lasting strategies to eradicate this disparity.”
The bill, S-2410, would establish a 21-member Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Task Force on Racial and Health Disparities within the Department of Health. Members of the task force would consist of the Chief Diversity Officer of New Jersey, four members of the Senate and General Assembly who are members of the New Jersey Black and Latino Caucuses, representatives from the Departments of Health, Community Affairs, Human Services, and Children and Families, the Office of Emergency Management, the Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency, and ten members of the public.
Under the bill, the task force would conduct a thorough and comprehensive study on how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the State’s minority communities. The task force would also investigate strategies to address the longstanding health disparities that exist in these vulnerable communities and how COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem.
The bill cleared committee by a vote of 7-0.