Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an order Thursday requiring medical professionals to undergo “implicit bias” training before getting licenses — citing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on people of color, according to reports.
Whitmer signed an executive directive to develop rules to require the training following a recommendation from her Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, according to the Detroit Free Press. Implicit bias training aims to help people recognize unconscious prejudices, such as racism.
“COVID-19 has had a disparate impact on people of color due to a variety of factors, and we must do everything we can to address this disparity. The evidence shows that training in implicit bias can make a positive difference, so today we are taking action to help improve racial equity across Michigan’s health care system,” Whitmer said.
She cited experts who say implicit bias impacts the quality of health care that racial minorities receive in hospitals, ranging from testing to treatment.
The coronavirus is four times more prevalent among black people than white people in Michigan, according to clickdetroit.com. As of last week, 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths were among black people despite the demographic making up just 14 percent of the state.
Whitmer’s order directs the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to come up with rules that require implicit bias training as part of the skills necessary for workers to get or renew their medical licenses.
It wasn’t clear what specific training exercises or lessons the health care workers would be required to undergo. Reps for Whitmer didn’t immediately return the Post’s request for comment.
But employees working everywhere from Starbucks to the NYPD have been required to undergo implicit bias training in the past, with some experts saying the proven effectiveness of the courses remains to be seen.
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