Gov. Whitmer signs executive directive requiring implicit bias training for health professionals

LANSING — On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer singed an executive directive requiring health care professionals in Michigan to undergo implicit bias training to obtain and renew their licenses and registrations.

Executive Directive 2020-7 directs the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to begin requiring implicit bias training for health professionals in Michigan. The directive signed by Whitmer requires LARA to develop rules requiring the training as a part of licensing and registration for health professionals.

“COVID-19 has had a disparate impact on people of color due to a variety of factors,” Whitmer said. “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 also indicated that she and her team will be completing implicit bias training on an annual basis.

“Michigan has led the way in identifying and addressing this problem,” Whitmer said. “This virus has shined a light on the staggering health disparities black Michiganders have faced long before COVID-19 ever hit our state.”

Implicit bias training addresses the unconscious biases people may hold.

According to Whitmer’s office, African American Michiganders represented 14 perecent of the state population as of July 5, but 40 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred in which the race of the patient was known.
The virus is four times more prevalent among African American Michiganders than among white Michiganders, according to a release from Whitmer’s office.

The directive requires LARA to consult with “relevant stakeholders in the medical profession, in state government and elsewhere in the community” by Nov. 1.

“When our government takes the health and safety of all people equally, we have a better shot,” said Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. “Implicit bias can be interjected at any point when someone has to make a choice.”

At the beginning of Whitmer’s address, she made a statement about safety precautions. A still from the video of the Diamond Lake Sandbar party from the Fourth of July was shown, and Cass County was mentioned by name.

“I want to be very clear right now, the law requires that anyone in an enclosed public space has to wear a mask,” Whitmer said. “We are reviewing that requirement and considering whether we need to take this a step further to strengthen compliance because we cannot let our guard down. We cannot afford to play fast and loose with the rules.”

Whitmer urged the public to continue wearing masks to protect friends, neighbors and community members.

“For the sake of your loved ones, for the sake of our economy, please mask up when you go out,” she said.

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