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Cooper executive order directs aid to COVID-stricken communities
Expands economic, health initiatives for underserved
Published Friday, June 5, 2020 10:00 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order to direct state agencies to provide measures to help communities of color impacted by economic and health disparities worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on North Carolinians of color.  

Executive Order 143, put into effect Thursday, directs state agencies and offices to provide specified measures to help communities of color recover from environmental, economic, and health disparities worsened by the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is shining a light on disparities that have long existed in our health care and economic institutions for communities of color,” Cooper said. “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.”

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color by expanding long-standing social, environmental, and health inequities. As of June 1, African Americans, who make up 22% of North Carolina’s population, account for 30% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 34% of COVID-19 deaths in cases where the individual’s race is known. Hispanics account for 39% of the confirmed cases despite only making up about 10% of the population.

“Health inequities are the result of more than individual choice or random occurrence – they are the result of the historic and ongoing interplay of inequitable structures, policies, and norms that shape lives,” said NC Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders.

The executive order:

* Creates the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force to focus on economic stability, health disparities, and environmental justice;

* Tasks the Pandemic Recovery Office to ensure the equitable distribution of relief funds;

* Instructs the Historically Underutilized Business Office to provide small historically underutilized businesses with access to opportunities, tools, and resources that promote equitable economic recovery and procurement of state contracts;

* Directs the state Department of Health and Human Services to ensure access to COVID-19 testing and related health care;

* Authorizes the Office of Public Engagement to increase awareness about COVID-19, relief services and resources, and education on eliminating disparities;

* Tasks the Division of Emergency Management with coordinating efforts to protect the state food supply chain and support feeding operations at food banks and school districts;

* Authorizes the North Carolina National Guard to provide planning, logistical support and personnel to support mass testing of workers at food processing plants in impacted communities and migrant farm workers; and

* Directs the Department of Environmental Quality to create discourse on environmental justice and coordinate with state executive agencies to blend environmental justice considerations into policies, programs, and procedures.


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