Chirlane McCray to head COVID-19 racial inequality task force

AmNews Staff Reports | 4/26/2020, 2:04 p.m.
Reports indicate that Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray is leading the new coronavirus (COVID-19) racial disparity ...
Chirlane McCray Contributed

Reports indicate that Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, is leading the new coronavirus (COVID-19) racial disparity task force. The move comes as Black New Yorkers continue to be overwhelmingly impacted by COVID-19.

Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson is joining McCray on the task force, according to reports. African Americans account for only 22% of NYC’s population, yet are 28% of coronavirus fatalities. The city put several COVID-19 testing sites in Black neighborhoods last week in Harlem, Bed-Stuy, the South Bronx and Jamaica, Queens.

"We're seeing a really disturbing disparity where people of African descent are being hit very hard by this disease, disproportionately hard," De Blasio said on the Amsterdam News Podcast. "And it goes back to a lot of things we all know too well, it goes back to massive disparities in health care predating this crisis, the fact that health care in this country is given out according to income and, you know, is not universal the way it should be."

In a statement, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams applauded the mayor for creating the task force but said there should be action for long-term solutions.

"The primary function of this task force cannot be to engage in a long, protracted process of deliberation and study, dwelling on how we got here. We know this disparity was created by a long history of systemic inequities and injustices," Williams said. "Additional delays waste time that the people being devastated by this crisis-- those who are deemed essential but treated as expendable-- just don't have."

On Sunday, de Blasio also appointed eight civic leaders who will help the city formulate a broader COVID-19 post-crisis recovery effort. They include Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Inc. (FWPA), and Patrick Gaspard, President of the Open Society Foundation.