LANSING, MICH. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Thursday to require all health professionals in Michigan to receive implicit bias training as part of their licensing.

The training was one of the recommendations made by the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which was created in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

“The existing health disparities highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic have made it clear that there is more work to do to ensure people of color have the same access to the same quality of health care as everyone else,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who chairs the task force, said. “By providing awareness to health care workers on how to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, we can help them carry out their mission of providing the best health care to every patient they serve.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said the effect of racism in the healthcare system is not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Black women are three to four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related condition than a white woman. A black baby is two to three times as likely to die before their first birthday as a white baby in the state of Michigan,” Khaldun said. “Health care disparities and inequitable access to opportunities to be healthy are, unfortunately, something that’s existed in this country for centuries.”

Whitmer said she and her staff would also complete the training on an annual basis.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...